Thursday, January 13, 2022

Microstory 1799: Adventurous Spirit

There’s not much to say about my life, so I’ll just tell you about my death, with a little bit of background. My father once told me that I had an adventurous spirit. I liked to learn about other places, and read about people’s harrowing ordeals. I didn’t actually do anything, though. I kept thinking that I would grow up to be a boat captain, or a pilot, or I dunno...just something that would show me the world. I was always watching Indiana Jones movies, so I thought becoming a college professor would help me. I ended up at the community college five miles from my childhood home, and I rarely stepped beyond my comfort zone. I was certainly not having any adventures. I woke up one day—it wasn’t a random day, but a few weeks before my birthday, which is around the time I start planning my party, which fewer and fewer attend each year. I was about to turn forty, and I had nothing to show for it. That was not acceptable. I had always considered that to be the age when you start getting old. It’s at the top of the hill. You spend half your life climbing up to it, and the other half falling down from it. Obviously I could make new memories in the second half, but I knew it would haunt me if I couldn’t say I did anything by then. I had to start before. I had to start now. I didn’t have any money, or more than a few vacation days saved up, but that was okay, because I was too scared to go too crazy anyway. There was a lake twenty miles out of town that I figured would be the perfect place for me to literally test the waters. If I could survive a baby adventure there, then I would know I was ready for something more, and then maybe more after that. I was never gonna end up in space, but I thought I would go further than this.

As someone who was so inexperienced, I didn’t know how to prepare. Was I going camping? Hiking? Water skiing? No, not water skiing, that’s insane. And no hiking either, I don’t like to walk. How about I just rent a little row boat, and go out onto the water? Yeah, the weather wasn’t too bad that day, so it should have been calm. I assumed that was what the weather report meant. Little wind, little waves. Anyway, twenty-five miles an hour sounded like a low number to me. I still didn’t know what to buy, so I just went to the watersports section of the sporting goods store, and pretty much grabbed one of everything. I knew I wouldn’t need a water trampoline, or a giant canoe, but every small thing seemed like a good idea, because it’s better to be safe than sorry. I gathered everything up, and drove to the lake, where there was indeed a little place to rent rowboats. God, I wish there hadn’t been. I wish it was out of season, or the guy had warned me that the weather was worse than I realized. I don’t know how the boat sank, or why it waited until I was in the middle of the water, but screaming for help did me no good. No one was around to hear, especially since that motorboat was being so loud. A life vest. That was the one thing I forgot to pack. I felt like such an idiot, loading up all this unnecessary gear, but leaving out the one thing that could save my life. I wouldn’t have needed it to keep from drowning, though. That’s not how I died. I didn’t stick around the boat, assuming it was best to swim towards the shore. That turned out to be my downfall. Had I stayed with all that floating crap, the motorboat people might have been able to spot me. Instead, breaststroking my way through the wavy waters, under the darkening sky, in my grayish sort of lake water-colored swimsuit, was the last mistake I made before the propellers came over to say hello.

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