I was eight when I snuck past the lifeguard and stepped into the undertow. The water rushed my feet, burying me at the ankles. The tide was easy, but firm in its pressure as it slipped me forward through the grain, pulling me out to sea.
Those were my mother's words - "pull you out to sea" - when she told me to stay away from the breakwater rocks. She said I'd never see her again if I went in there.
The water receded suddenly, leaving me calf-deep in wet sand. As I wiggled my toes deeper to see how far I could go down, I missed the wave barreling into my chest. I woke up sometime later covered in sand on a lonely stretch of beach, lips blue and past shivering.
When I finally found the pale twin high rises that we'd beached in front of, I glimpsed my parents from a distance, screaming at each other. Just as I had left them.
I approached slowly, but not for caution. My parents frequently fought and, though I'd normally keep my distance, this could not wait. I stood in front of them with wet eyes; mad they hadn't noticed I was missing, noticed I was sick.
And I remember my dad's face as he glanced at me, first a passingly and then closer. He grabbed a towel and ran towards me, effectively dropping the argument. My mother glared at me, like I was the worst thing, like I had taken everything from her.
"So that bitch is more important."
For days I tasted salt.