“Goodbye”, I whisper, watching the color drain from her face. A small flurry of bubbles escapes her lips as if she was trying to wish me farewell too before she finally stops struggling. I happily remove my hands from where they were clasped around her neck.
I step back from the river as I stare at my children’s faces, all of them float aimlessly in the looking clear-glass water, hair clouding glassy rolled back eyes. I smile as I take my youngest in my arms and stroke her long blond hair.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” I sing, my smile grows larger with every syllable as I watch her head bob and loll to one side. I set her down back down and smile at my son and other daughter as they peacefully drift aimlessly amongst a flurry of freshly fallen leaves and small minnows.
I give her a small shove and watch her smooth pale cheeks that once glistened with tears, glisten with small white bubbles as she drifts to the bottom of the lake. My son and other daughter have already started the long journey down by themselves. I smile, proudness glinting in my eyes at how responsible they were, knowing exactly what they were supposed to do even in death.
I rub my palms on my jeans and reach up to my nose, where a steady flow of blood was running down and over my lips from where my son had punched me amid his struggle. I know he would’ve asked me why I drowned him along with his two sisters, but unfortunately, he was running out of air, so no questions came.
I continued to smile and gave a small wave at my children’s placid faces before they drifted to the bottom of the lake. I would never see them again, but that was a good thing. They were such a nuisance.
My blood drips onto the rich soil that litters the area around the lake. I subconsciously try and wipe it away, smearing it over my chin and cheeks in the process. The sunlight glints off of an old candy wrapper nearby. And I see that it had started to set. I stand up and walk westward towards home.
Ferns incrusted with dew along with a variety of weeds rub up against my uncovered ankles as I slowly make my descent towards home. The image of me in jail, making headlines with “Floridian mother, Maria Otto, drowns children in a nearby lake”, excited me. I’d always strived for fame after all.
I walk for about an eighth of a mile, content with my thoughts when I spot my old ford hanging by an unmarked children’s playground. I stroll across the street and open the door to be greeted by the smell of lemon hand sanitizer and old children’s car seats.
My legs brush up against the cool leather of the interior of my car as I rest my hands on the steering wheel. I jam the car key into the small slot that would start my car, it takes a couple of tries, but eventually, I reverse it and turn around to head home.
My house is about four miles from the lake so I turn on some music to pass some time. “We are the champions” starts to blare through the windows of the car. I roll down the windows and let the wind whip through my hair as I make the long haul home.
The scent of pine greets my nose as I drift through a wooden area. The tall pine trees tower far overhead as I bob my head to the music. The road continues for a while before I make out a strange shape in the distance. The closer I get the more details I make out of a wrecked car, along with a few people standing beside it. I pull over.
“Hello”, I said, pulling beside one of the strangers. It’s dark out by now, and the tall pines cast great shadows onto the foreigner's faces.
The person simply looks at me with a cocked head before gesturing towards the wrecked car. I raised my eyebrows, not that they could see that though, and cocked my head as well. One of the other people standing nearby walked into my field of vision and then spoke.
“Need help.” A deep baritone grumbled.
“My name's Maria, Maria Otto. How can I help?” I question, steadily growing impatient “Should I call the police?”
The person doesn’t answer so I pull out my phone and begin to dial 911.
Before I press call I am started by about forty pairs of gleaming eyes, each standing around the crash and staring at me. I drop my phone and simply stare. There’s a crash behind me, the sound of one of my windows breaking, and I flick my headlights on.
In front of me are women, men, and children, all dressed in tribal skins. There speaking something inaudible, but all I see are the makeshift weapons in their hands.
I slam on the gas pedal, powering through the sea of people in front of the car and zip forward with a deafening crack. I turn my head to find I had rammed straight into a tree. I look up, but it isn’t exactly up. It’s as if I’m floating above myself and looking down. I shake my head, trying to make sense of it all, but my head won’t shake. I try to blink, but can’t. I close my eyes, then open them. I’m above myself, looking down at a stranger's body covered in blood from where the seatbelt had dug into her neck and severed it. The strange people near the crash now started doing some tribal dance, as they bashed through my window and took it from its bloody mess, spilling my blood over the ground.
I turn around, not exactly moving but knowing I needed to turn, and drift back toward the lake. There’s no use in going home now, being dead and all. My eyes slowly make out forms of other spirits, drifting aimlessly. I try to shout to them, but I find I have no voice.
I find myself back at the lake. I assume that if I can see other spirits I could see my children again too. I wander around the lake until I see the patches of blood from my bloody nose earlier. I walk northward, searching for the hazy, glassy look that I’d seen with the other spirits.
My spirit drifts over multiple ferns, eventually resting atop a tall tree above the lake. There are so many new colors and textures of the universe now. The starry spirits in the sky called to me, beckoning me to come join them. I taste the life from the ferns, pouring into the drifting sense of laughter within the lake.
I look down and focus on the lake, It’s as clear as well cleaned glass, but in spirit form, it seems hazy. I drift forward and extend myself towards the lake. It surrounds me in its strange hazy clarity. It drifts around me and that's when I notice what it was. Spirits. Hundreds of thousands of spirits surrounding me and enveloping me. They start to pull me into the lake, its icy waters enveloping me. I would scream, but I can’t. I’m fully submerged in water, yet I can breathe. I have no use for breathing.
The water feels like gelatin, agonizingly slow. I pushed and pulled, but it was almost as if the lake wanted me to go, sinking into oblivion. I turned around to get one last look at my captors and were shocked to find not one, but three lonely spirits, each one I had held in her arms as baby’s and raised until that evening.
I screamed and pushed up above myself, the surface of the lake a mere memory, and the water engulfing every struggling attempt to break free. The water that was once silky smooth now felt like a shard of glass cutting deep into my skin, as my children slowly dragged me deeper and deeper into a hellish afterlife.