Candice disconnected the call, feeling a mixture of anger, frustration and despair. That was the third bank she’d applied to for a loan… and the third bank to refuse her. Now it looked like she was going to lose the house.
Howard had left her several weeks ago for his new secretary. The bastard had taken all their money while leaving most of the debts behind. It felt like she was being buried under an avalanche of bills.
She put in a call to Mya, hoping her friend could help her out. Mya was sympathetic, although she proved to be unhelpful. It was another avenue that had just dead-ended.
She sighed as she struggled not to cry, looking out the kitchen window at her backyard pool. She wasn’t going to have it much longer. If she couldn’t make the payments on the house, the bank was going to foreclose. Somehow Howard had gotten out from underneath the loan, leaving her on the hook.
She went into her bedroom, fighting back tears as she changed into her one-piece swimsuit. It was the black one with the sheer fabric covered by crisscrossing lines. She liked how it felt on her… how it made her feel sexy. But this time it didn’t help.
She sighed as she went out the back door to the patio and the in-ground pool. She hated the thought of giving it up. She’d spent many hours swimming around in it, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness. Now all that was coming to an end.
She went down the steps into the shallow end. Then she submerged as she began to swim back and forth. The water felt comforting… almost reassuring.
Her thoughts turned inward and the struggles she was having. She tried to imagine herself getting through the dark days ahead. But she only saw the gloom of a despairing future.
Could she get another job somewhere? She was already working two… and it still wasn’t covering the bills. Her credit cards were starting to max out as she struggled to keep her head above water.
What would happen if she just disappeared? No doubt the bank and the credit card companies would come looking for her until they found her. It might take years to pay off her debts… maybe longer. Filing for bankruptcy seemed a temporary solution with long-term consequences.
She surfaced, got another breath, and then submerged to swim along the bottom. It occurred to her she could just open up her mouth and swallow water. That might take care of things. At least she wouldn’t be around to deal with the loss of her home.
She shook her head, telling herself that wasn’t the answer. Then she thought about it again. Drowning herself would certainly take her out of the equation. She wouldn’t have to worry about making the payments anymore.
She surfaced in the middle of the pool, standing up with her head out of water. She filled her lungs and then submerged. The water felt reassuring, almost as though it was calling out to her.
She told herself to just let herself go and open up her lungs. But she couldn’t make herself do it. Besides, she was already starting to float back up to the surface.
She stood up and gasped for breath. Then she filled her lungs before resuming her swim. That certainly was a stupid thing to consider: thinking about drowning herself.
But as she swam back and forth, she continued to consider the matter. She had some life insurance. That might be enough to pay off most of her debts. But could she go through with it?
She surfaced again, standing up in the shallow end. That’s when she caught sight of her pink weight belt lying near the edge of the pool. She often used it whenever she wanted to stay down on the bottom while holding her breath.
She shook her head as she swam around along the bottom of the pool. She remained submerged as she turned and swam back into deep water. Then she popped up for another breath, only to see the weight belt staring back at her.
She thought about it for a moment or two. Then she snatched it up. She filled her lungs and submerged, sinking all the way to the bottom of the deep end while wrapping it around her waist.
She launched herself off the bottom toward the shallow end, releasing bubbles out of her nose. She reached the steps and stood up. She looked at the belt wrapped around her waist and then looked at the pool and the rippling waves. It was almost as though it was calling out to her, telling her it would be so easy.
She submerged and then swam all the way into the deep end. Then she headed back to shallow water. She finally came to a halt and sat down against the edge near the middle of the pool.
She rested with her back against the wall. Then she slowly began releasing bubbles. She opened her mouth, allowing more air to escape while inviting the water to come invade her body.
Her lungs started to heave; her chest was on fire. At the last second she closed her mouth and shot up to the surface. She gasped wildly for breath, her heart beating fast.
She looked all around, but everything looked the same. She still had all those debts to pay off. Howard was gone; Mya didn’t want to help; and she had a job she didn’t like but was forced to hang onto for the time being. Her problems were still out there awaiting her attention.
Candice filled her lungs and then returned to the bottom. She sat down with her back against the wall. Maybe a little breathholding would make her feel better.
She listened quietly to the pool pump as she felt the cool water envelop her. It was so peaceful down here. But the problems up at the surface would still be there when she returned.
She heard a small voice in the back of her head urging her to open her mouth and give in… It’ll be easy, Candice. Just open up your lungs. It won’t take long. Besides, it’s so peaceful down here, right? Don’t you want to hang out here for the rest of your life?
She felt the growing strain as she continued to hold her breath. It started in her stomach, the gentle spasms migrating upward. The strain got worse as her chest began to heave.
Just open your mouth, Candice. Open your mouth and inhale. It won’t take long. Then all your worries will be over.
She felt the burn in her chest increase as the tears welled up in her eyes. She felt the urge to head for the surface. Her lungs were really hurting now.
She sat there forcing herself to hold her breath a couple seconds longer… and then a couple more seconds after that. She felt that growing urge to panic if she didn’t get a breath soon. Within moments her body was going to fight or take flight.
Candace opened her mouth, allowing herself to take a breath. Instantly her windpipe closed off. A moment later she began thrashing about, swallowing water as her mouth opened and closed.
She shot up to the surface, only for the weight belt to pull her right back down as she tried to take another breath. She got more water down her windpipe. Then she lost control of her motor functions as she settled back down onto the bottom, her chest heaving.
For a moment it hurt like hell. She couldn’t make her arms move. Then she had a moment of clarity…
It’s better this way. Now your troubles are over. And with that she hitched again, coughing out one last bubble before she settled against the wall of the pool.
Candice lay there staring lifelessly as though she didn’t have a care in the world. A couple of stray spasms made her muscles twitch. A single, solitary bubble slipped past her parted lips. Then consciousness faded away.
About that time her cell phone rang inside the house. It was her friend Leslie. She’d heard about her troubles and had talked to a friend she knew who worked at a credit union. She also thought she might have a line on a better paying job as well as a short-term loan.
The call went straight to voicemail.
(Written Mar 16 ’18 by riwa)
(Preview pics are from H2O’s Candice Takes Herself Out and are used for illustration purposes only.)