So tonight I have written my second Midnight Writing Prompt that isn’t at midnight. I like to live dangerously, what can I say?
This one is less of a story and more of a question of “what if?” I have made it somehow short, but a more story-like, concrete sequel to this piece could be added later on. I might try that out when I do my next writing prompt.
From the corner of my eye, I saw the woman, uneasy on her own feet. She held a very small child in her arms. This sight triggered the longest two seconds I have ever lived.
The woman’s foot slipped upon the wet limestone deck; the child, not even having time to flinch or scream or react in any way, dropped from the woman’s arms. My whole body awoke and screamed itself into action, and before that single second was over, the child fell safely into the arms of his father, who had been waiting in the pool.
That was the first second. It was quick, and to the observant eye, innocent and maybe a little amusing, but believe me when I tell you it changed my life when the next second came around.
All was well. My fellow lifeguard across the other side of the pool continued his watch. The woman had slipped and regained her footing. But my body was still on fire and my heart was about to give out.
A story began to unfold in my mind’s eye- a flash-forward one second film that I could not stop or rewind.
The child, a little girl, falls against the edge of the pool, just a centimeter away from her original destination; her head cracks open and bloody matter gushes out from the cavity, staining the floors and the water. The crimson colour begins to spread in the water, and little by little the swimmers begin to scream and rush away from the scene.
I, on the other hand, am frozen completely still. I know there is nothing I can do, and at the same time, my spirit buckles at the atrocity I have just witnessed. I fall to my knees, but it doesn’t even hurt. Nothing hurts more than this.
The film flashes; a mother, torn by the worst pain there could ever be, sits alone. I reach out to her, but I cannot reach. I could never reach. There is nothing I can do, now, and never before, either.
A multiplication occurs inside of my head, and the film is no longer a film, but rather an open window to everything I could ever see. For every person inside of the pool- no, for every person I have ever seen- I imagine a single slip, a false move of the body, a twisted decision that was not meant to be. This fate could be mine if only I rushed too fast to help one of these victims.
This fate could be anyone’s, anytime, any way.
The film stopped abruptly; I fell back into my own body, eyes open with shock. It took a long time for me to notice I had forgotten to breathe. Awake and aware, I toured the pool with my eyes and concluded that everything was under control.
“Get a grip,” I whispered to myself. I couldn’t go on daydreaming about everything and anything; I had a job to do.
But those two seconds…
My mind seemed to be more open, somehow. Every action, every little piece of existence that changed around me triggered my mind to imagine, “What if?”