Chapter 5

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***This is from the unedited version and content may change*** **Mature Content Warning*** 17+ for language and sexual content.***

Chapter 5

I’ve only blacked out once that I can remember. My father thought that the best way to teach me how to swim was to row me out into the middle of the lake and make me get into the water. After that, he left me there. Said the fear would force my swimming instincts to kick in, because up until that point I seemed to lack them. I was around ten years old and although I had a good grasp on my emotions by then, I was still scared shitless as I struggled to stay afloat in the cold water while my father rowed away toward the shore. I gave a good fight though, fought until the very end. Kept my eyes on the castle in the distance, hoping that if I stared at it, that somehow it’d come closer to me or I to it. But eventually it began to disappear, slip out of my sight. I couldn’t hold myself up above the water anymore. I sank. Water filled my lungs. My heart struggled to keep beating. I ended up blacking out. I thought I was dead, thought I’d never see the sky, the land, the castle again and the scary part is that there was little fear in than thought.

But I did wake up again, on the shore, coughing up water with the sky above me. I thought it was my father who saved me, that he saw that I wasn’t going to be able to swim and came back to rescue me, that he cared enough about me that he didn’t want me to die. But it wasn’t. Aislin was the one who swam out and saved me.

My father was enraged. At me for giving up. At Aislin for helping me. He said we were useless. That we’d never amount to anything. That he wished I’d died instead of gave up. I should have been angry at him, but instead I felt ashamed. I spent the next week in the lake, sinking and nearly drowning until finally, I was able to swim. And I’ve tried not to rely on anyone ever since—tried to never be weakened by human emotion.

***

“Can you hear me?” someone says through the haziness in my head. “Nod your head if you can?”

I try to wobble my head around, but I can’t find the strength to do it, so instead I lie wherever I am, my body as heavy as cement.

“Jesus, Alex,” they say and I recognize the voice—Aislin. “I thought you were stronger than this?”

I want to retort with an insult, but my lips feel weighted, sealed together. I attempt to lift my hand, but again, I have no motion in my body.

“Oh for the love of God.” She sounds more irritated than worried, which is typical. Aislin and I have always had one of those brother/sister relationships where we argue a shitload and get annoyed easily with one another.

Seconds later, I feel water splash across my face, ice cold of course. I’m jolted awake, eyes shooting open. I instantly recognize where I am—on the floor of the bedroom where I tied Gemma up in. Aislin is standing above me with an empty cup in her hand, her eyebrows raised, her hair singed at the ends, which means she’s recently done a spell that’s backfired, so nothing new.

“Thanks,” I say sarcastically as I sit up, wiping the water from my face with the back of my hand.

“You’re welcome,” she replies in an upbeat tone as she sets the cup down on top of the dresser.

I get to my feet, vertigo still evident, and the room swaying and throwing me off balance. I stick out my hand and brace myself against the bedpost. “Where the hell have you been?” I ask, glancing at the bed where Gemma is laying with her eyes closed. I’d worry she was dead but I can see her chest rising and falling with her breath. She looks at peace, sleeping, but the question is: why? What happened after I passed out that made her pass out? And why did I dream what I did… it didn’t even feel like a dream. It felt more real than this moment right now.

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