As a StoryTerrace writer, Birgit interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below
The day is really hot. We've just finished the competition, and I'm muddy all over. I tie my blue t-shirt around my head, and run into the water. “Baywatch alert!” I hear a male voice shouting, and a loud laughter. I smirk.
I'm not a confident swimmer, but the pond is quite small, and by the time the water is up to my chest area, I've crossed more than a third of the distance to the other shore.
The water is nice and warm. I'm in the middle of the pond, when they announce that the competition continues… Sh.t! I don't think they see me, and if they do, they don't think it's a problem. Well, it is for me! I'm swimming in unknown waters here! And I can't go back!
As I'm swimming in my half-dog-half frog-style towards the shore across, I feel the tiredness in my arms. And my legs. Is it the heat? Is it the competition where I was (almost) constantly running?
My limbs are getting numb and tingly. I try to increase the pace. I start panting. Panic creeps in. I try to switch the technique into freestyle, but I'm moving forward very slowly. Too slow. And then it happens. The shortness of breath.
The reason I never swim alone, the reason I always stay in the areas where I can grab something and rest, or stay in the depths where I can put my feet to the bottom.
Bottom – that might be already doable. It's less than 5 metres to the shore. I changed my position… My head goes underwater, I stretch out my toes as much as I can, but there's no bottom! Only warm, floating mud touches my toes, and because I move them, it's in front of my face too.
I can't die! Not here! Not now! It would be too embarrassing to drown in a small pond like that! I'd ruin the day for all of these people.
I can hear the ambulance sirens, see the dust behind as they are rushing to the scene. I imagine the shock and fear in their faces. NO! They came to have fun. I can't ruin their weekend!
I have to make it to the shore!
A sudden-found strength in my arms pulls me back to the surface, and I freestyle-dog-frog for two more of my body-lengths, and then my knees touch the steep bottom. There's no sand on the shore. Only grass, and my fingers have never clasped something as tightly as they do that grass that afternoon.
As I drag myself out of the water, baby-crawl up to the higher ground, I just lay there. Panting. Shaking all over my body. I made it. I cry. Everything is the same. The sky is blue, the birds are singing and horse flies land on my body like nothing’s happened. I can hear cheers and shouting from the other side of the pond.
I decided to go to our tent, and change clothes. I stay there for an hour, to calm down my shaking body, and collect my thoughts.
I never mentioned that thing to anyone that night. Or the next day.
I'm too embarrassed to talk about it to anyone for many years. Embarrassed that I put myself into a stupid situation, and almost ruined a night for so many people.
I'm young, living on my own, and enjoying it. I don't want to die. But the fear I might, is slowly sneaking in.
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