The side of my body slammed hard against floor, waking me up with a jolt. Disoriented, and with a splitting headache, I realize the boat is rocking violently back and forth; there must be a storm. I try to get to my feet, but the boat tilts drastically to the right and I fall to the floor once more.
The numbers on my digital watch appear blurry and out of focus, but I manage to make out the time: 8:45. I don’t know how long I was out, but I understand I now need to sober up enough to take control of the boat before something terrible happens. Only, a part of me thinks I’d deserve whatever happens—these thoughts only last a few seconds before my survival instincts kick in.
I manage to climb the few stairs and get to the wheel of the boat. Giant waves are rising to great peaks, each time carrying the boat with them before crashing down and rising to form another new crest. I peer through the heavy rain into the distance and am in awe by what I see; it’s still dark outside and there is what looks to be a moving, black mountain on the horizon. At the tip of the mountain, shining bright through the rain and raging wind, is a small flicker of light.
I’m at a loss for explanation. How can it still be dark outside? Why does this flicker of light haunt me so? Why am I not afraid? As I struggle to keep the boat from capsizing, I notice a calm air has taken over me. I feel…ready. Ready for the end. I’m not afraid to die. No, that fear left me when Natalia did.
The flash is overwhelming this time. It’s so exuberant that everything goes completely white for a moment. No daylight, or clarity of the ocean this time. Just a blinding white light. Then the world goes to black—and I’m submerged deep in the cold water. Only this time, I’m not dreaming. I can feel my body fighting the urge to take in a lungful of salt water.
My limbs go numb as I float—unable to tell how far down I am. I can feel the waves crashing far above me, with the water pushing me down, deeper and deeper. I guess this is how it all ends. Can’t say I’m not surprised. Subconsciously, I think this was the whole reason I’ve stayed out here as long as I have. I had no plans of actually returning. I just needed nature to do what I’ve been to cowardly to; end my life.
It’s only been five minutes or so, but it feels as if hours have gone by. My body has gone limp, and I know my lungs have filled with water. I’m dead, or, I think I am. I don’t understand what’s happening. I’m lost—I have no control. The only thing I can do is float—but I’m not in my body anymore. I can see myself being carried off with the moving ocean. Yet, I’m stuck here—submerged in the darkness. Then I see it.
The flicker of light dances in front of me now. It’s nearly close enough to touch; it has a warmth that radiates from it. It’s like gazing at a white star, sparkling in the heavens. I reach out—and something takes my hand.
Small fingers wrap around my thumb and tug gently. I feel an incredible warmth circulate through me. Nothing seems real anymore. I stare into the flickering orb of light for a moment, then something miraculous happens; it pulls me out of the water and carries me above the world; the ocean looks so small and insignificant from up here.
With an unfathomable speed, I’m taken to a place that is like something I’ve never seen before. Everything has a warm, orange glow to it. Still feeling the small fingers holding my thumb, I look down to my hand. I nearly break down when I see her soft brown eyes looking back up at me: Natalia, my daughter. She’s come back to me. I feel, whole again.
Suddenly, a great flash of light blinds me—only this time, there is a piercing pain coming from my chest that accompanies it. Two men are looking down at me; one of them is pressing hard against my chest. I cough violently and feel thick mucus and liquid spew from my throat. Everything is spinning.
“He’s back.” I don’t recognize that voice.
“What’s happening? Where’s Natalia?” I asked, not knowing who I’m speaking to.
“Sir, you’re going to be okay,” the voice responded.
“I don’t… where am I?” Everything is so bright. My body is cold, sore, I feel as if I’ve been hit by a car.
“Your boat was reported lost at sea over a week ago. We found you wearing a life preserver floating near the Barlay Lighthouse. You must have been carried here by the storm. You’re one lucky man.”
“Lucky?” How can I be lucky? I’m not where I’m supposed to be.
“Just try to relax sir. You coughed up a lot of water and we need to get you to the hospital.?
“But where’s Nata—“
“Sir, please. Everything will be okay now.”
“Everything will be—okay…”