Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Microstory 1717: Carina

Carina Silver awoke face up on a diving board. She had grown so used to sleepwalking that she no longer freaked out about it. Regularly, she returned to the world of the living in awkward, or even dangerous, positions. It was best to remain as still as possible until she could assess the situation. She saw a waterslide in the middle distance, but it was still difficult to tell how far up she was. She had to move to figure that out. She sat up slowly, and braced herself on the edges. Swinging her legs down to straddle the board, she now realized she was on the high dive, and also that the pool was empty. It wasn’t covered, or anything. Judging by the leaves and trash below her, it was abandoned long ago. Falling from this height could be fatal, and even if she survived impact, it could potentially be years before anyone else came round here. The two ladders still remaining appeared to be in bad shape, as was the board. The more she moved, the more she could hear it slide against the bolts that once held onto it tight. It was a wonder she hadn’t fallen to her head while she was still asleep. Obviously the more she approached the steps to safety, the more stable the surface would become, but getting far enough away from the far end was going to be hard. It might be impossible. She made one move towards the steps, and the entire thing came up like a seesaw, tipping her over towards an early death. Carina exhaled as it teetered, hoping the release of air made her light enough to keep from going over. She didn’t know if that had anything to do with it, but the board did end up tottering back, and returning to its rightful place. Moving was not an option. She had to keep it in balance, so if she was ever going to get off this thing, it was going to take a miracle, or maybe just some assistance.

Carina was a quiet person, both literally and socially. She spoke in low volumes, and said unprovocative things. She didn’t like to disturb people, and even now, when calling out for help could save her life, she struggled to speak beyond a whisper. She kept trying to raise her voice, so others would know she was in trouble, but she just couldn’t do it. Part of it was fear that her voice alone could tip her back towards the concrete below, but most of it was because of how unnatural and unfamiliar it felt. Before too long, she gave up, and lay back down on the board to watch the stars. She could not see them well when the tears welled in her eyes, and rolled down her temples. She fell back asleep, knowing that she could end up falling over because of it, but also calculating there to be a remote chance that her sleepwalking self would figure out the problem for her. When she awoke yet again, the stars were gone, and the sun was blinding her eyes. The sound of joyful cries and laughter overwhelmed her ears. A few drops of water made it all the way up to her, and danced upon her shoulders. She sat up and looked around. Yes, she was still above the pool, but it was no longer abandoned. It was full of patrons, mostly children, and also water. They were jumping off the two lower boards, and chasing each other around, and swimming laps in the lanes. Had she traveled through time, or filled the pool with her own tears, or had she simply imagined the state of the place last night, and it was actually all fine all along? They were having all sorts of fun, and appeared to be unperturbed by her presence. A child was standing at the top of the steps, waiting to take his turn on the high dive. Below them, Carina could see a line of others. They weren’t complaining, or yelling at her. They were just waiting patiently, and letting her take all the time she needed. Even so, she didn’t want to keep them waiting, so Carina smiled and waved at everyone. Then she rolled over, and dove into the water.

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