Jaydan Salzke

May 26, 2022


This story contains suicidal themes

The ripples have stilled now, the water no longer disturbed by its new occupant.

At first the wavelets had seemed endless, the edge of the lake incessantly lapping at the surrounding grasslands. They had threatened eternity, as if they knew that the newcomer’s arrival foretold a fate from which they desperately wanted to get away. But, long ago, the sound of the wash subsided, and so too did the water’s fear. It was replaced by hunger, by a sinister desire to turn itself inside out and consume all within it.

It wishes to swallow me. And I wish it to succeed.

Playing the long game, and winning, it throws everything it has at me.

A breeze first. A breeze that has already dismantled needle leaves from nearby pine trees, creating a carpet of green below them. It creates a weak current in the lake that rocks me slightly. The sway lulls me, like a mother would a babe, into a false sense of security as the comfort turns into dizziness turns into queasiness turns into failing concentration.

Darkness second. The sky, before filled with swatches of pinks and oranges, now welcomes the night as the black devours the trees and houses in the distance, beckoning loneliness and helplessness. It forces me to rely on other senses. I feel reeds tickle my toes and a swamp-like smell invades my nostrils, exacerbating my nausea. I taste, too, salt and spit as I slowly, intentionally, let on water.

And third: cold. What began as the natural cooling of evening has become a harshness in the water as the temperature drop numbs me limb by limb. The chill, a shock at first, now feels normal, desirable even. My breath, short and sharp, succumbs to its request as it demands complacency, stilling any remaining thoughts of rebellion.

I’m ready to embrace it. All of it. I’m ready for it to fulfil its wish and mine when, on the horizon, a light flickers on. It’s pointed my way and growing in size, casting reflections off the water.

A voice accompanies it — how did it find me? It’s deep and husky and calls out, “Is somebody there?”

At first, I don’t respond, desperately hoping it will leave, that it will give me fifteen more minutes. But as the surface area of the light grows and a figure comes into view, I know I must call back.

I go to speak but the water scorches my throat. The more I try, the more I take on. Soon my insides are drowning and my limbs are flailing. It no longer matters how the voice found me, just that it did and that it will have been for nothing.

The torch light fades as I sink under the surface.

It consumes me. The water. The cold. The darkness.

Until I’m one with it, with no way out.

Until a hand breaks through the surface and grasps at my shirt and pulls.

Jaydan Salzke is a teacher turned writer (Creative, Copy, Content and Ghost) who is intent on wielding the power of words to make our world better, not just noisier. His published works have appeared in Literally Stories, Mind Shines Bright, and The Fiery Scribe Review, among other journals. You can keep up with Jaydan’s work on Instagram @jaydansalzke and at