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Pen Your Pride

"Dying / Is an art, like everything else." -Sylvia Plath

I am back underwater again, but this time, I'm not being pulled under.

Instead, I float with my arms spread on either side of me, palms facing up. A gentle current pulls at my body, surrounding me with the cool of the water. The fire on my skin is gone, replaced by numbness.

My body feels nothing, but my face is cold. Not wintery cold, like standing outside in the middle of a rainstorm, facing the inward blowing winds. This cold is different, more like being caressed by a single icy hand.

I open my eyes, staring at the mirage of colors overhead. The Robin's egg blue of the sky blends seamlessly with the perfect white of the clouds. Black shadows pass over me, birds maybe, circling before landing on a much larger black shadow that bobs on the surface of the water.

Something red sits on the edge of the shadow. It catches the sunlight in it's web, trapping it and turning it into a halo to wear.

The red figure stands, and its navy body joins the Van Gogh swath of sky. It leans over the water, reaching a long, sun licked arm into the water.

"Quinn! Can you hear me? Oh, God. Quinn!"

The current picks up, and my body begins to tremble in it's hold.

The fire returns, beginning in my fingertips and spreading through the rest of my body like a chill. I clench my eyes closed, overwhelmed. Cold, sweaty hands grip both sides of my face, pulling me up.

Up, up, up.

Until I come crashing back down again, head first into solid ground.

I open my eyes just wide enough to see who is searing my core with their ice knives. The red figure comes into view, brown eyes brimmed with tears that threatened to pour over onto her freckled face.

"Lex," I say, willing my tongue to cooperate, even though it feels like a wooden block.

She pulls me up against her chest, rocking me back and forth. Every inch sends waves of pain back over my body, threatening to send me back over the edge. My vision blurs; my breathing is shallow and uneven.

"Hold on, Q," she whispers in a strangled voice, "I'll get help. Please, don't leave me."

She shifts my body in her arms, grunting as she lifts us both up. The weight of my numb lower body makes me scream as my head erupts into flashes of light. Then, we are running, and my head falls weakly into her shoulder.

I can't keep my eyes open.

The emptiness of the water seems much better than the burning pain. Being asleep is a much better option. If I can just rest, maybe it will all go away.

Something deep in the back of my mind tells me if I go to sleep, I won't wake up again.

"Lex," I mumble, "I have to tell you something."

She stops running, taking huge gasps of breath as she kneels down and looks at me. A layer of sweat covers her face, making her look iridescent in the moonlight.

Wait. What was I going to tell her?

Her endless, brown eyes stare at me; she arches her eyebrows. I'm lost in counting the freckles across her nose, tracing the curve of her lips with heavy eyes. How have I never noticed how long her eyelashes are, like the wispy ends of paintbrushes, slightly dampened by a cup of discolored water? Does she know that her hair around her ears curls in tight, pink-sized ringlets when she sweats or that the pink in her cheeks reminds me of the bottom of kitten's paws?

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