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FRIDAY, APRIL 1
Maybe I could still make sleep happen.
Since the accident, where there should have been a memory, there was nothing. My whole life, I’d been able to fully recall each competitive dive; it was part of my process and I knew I couldn’t dive without it. But now there was just a blank space where a dive used to be.
I tried not to panic. I had four weeks to heal from the concussion and remember what exactly happened in the time between when my feet left the board and my body hit the water. Once I had that memory back, I’d be able to climb the ladder and know that I wouldn’t fail in front of a crowd again, I wouldn’t disappoint my coach, and I wouldn’t break my neck. The memory would be there if I could just sleep.
What I could do was imagine my favorite part of every dive before my last—slicing into the water, thousands of sparkling bubbles shooting out all around me. Then that moment underwater alone, deep and looking up at the light.
I could also imagine my surface break followed by an automatic glance to Mike, my coach I adored, on the deck. Usually, a big nod of approval meant solid execution with notes to follow. A headshake meant the opposite. He was always right there. We always connected before and after.
Something had thrown me before the last dive. My neighbor’s presence was the only thing different about that day. Van, so out of place at the pool, his hand on my teammate’s lower back. When he tilted his head to kiss Caroline, our eyes met. After that, all I remembered was Coach Mike poolside, watching, ready for me to go, then … blank, black. Then faces floating toward me through clouds of pink water.
My eyes snapped open.
Lying flat on my back, I stared at the ceiling, listening to the drip of the leaking faucet in my half-broken bathroom. Other than that, it was so quiet, just ambient noise from devices and appliances plugged into outlets. For a second, I was sure there was another presence in the house.
The clock now said 4:33 A.M. Whatever I’d been doing—actively not sleeping, growing more and more anxious as daylight neared—I’d been doing it for hours.
I was going to call it. This was night three with no sleep.
SATURDAY, APRIL 2
Actress and singer Brooke Carter married longtime boyfriend, hip-hop producer L. Roth, in a lavish ceremony in Lake Como, Italy, over Easter weekend. The couple’s two daughters, ages three and seven, were flower girls at the two hundred–person event. The family will continue to live in Los Angeles and New York City.
Accompanying the news item was a photo, taken at London Heathrow Airport. My dad wore sunglasses, his black hair buzzed short, the tattoo he’d gotten back in his competitive diving days snaking up his neck from his collar. Brooke was a head taller than him. She also wore large sunglasses and her black hair cascaded down her back. Their little girls looked like dolls. Dressed in fur coats, they were two puffballs. Each parent held a daughter by the hand.
In the waning spring daylight, I swiveled my ugly, plastic desk chair to face the windows as I absorbed the news and looked out at the cul-de-sac as maybe my dad used to see it. Three abandoned boys’ bikes littered the Andersons’ front lawn. Twelve-year-old Mary Seitzman practiced her ballet on the sidewalk, pirouetting in front of the Kaplans’ bay window before wiping her brow. The Loves’ new puppy attacked the arc of water shooting out from a sprinkler. The action appeared right outside my windows like my own personal movie projected on a screen. I allowed myself the barest glance to check if Van’s car was in his driveway.
My mom put her shoulder to the warped bedroom door and opened it with a burst. I twisted to look at her but a bolt of pain lit through my head to my stomach. I leaned against the armrest to keep the burning light at the edges.
“Babe, you okay?”
My coach’s voice rang in my head: Depending on your mental strength, you can bear any pain.
I blinked hard and the world sharpened into view again. Slices of my girlish bedroom, decorated long ago in hues of yellow, became visible behind my mom. On the wall were framed illustrations of my initials “I” and “R” and a poem written in Hebrew, which I didn’t understand. I wondered if Brooke had converted for my dad like my mom had.
“Hey.” I tried to sound nonchalant. I focused my eyes on my beautiful Swedish mom, who had once been an actress herself. She was dressed in green scrubs, her worn-out blond hair in a high bun and her face more heavily lined with each passing month. I felt disloyal even noticing. She surveyed me from where she stood at the foot of my double bed, floral duvet half off and sheets intentionally tangled to give her the impression that I’d rested.
Copyright © 2020 by Marit Weisenberg