I can smell it still, before my eyes are even open. That distinctive, rusty, smell of blood and it brings it all flooding back. I open my eyes a crack and feel for the phone on the floor next to the couch. I bring my hand up to my face and sniff, even though I know it’s just in my head. I washed all of the blood off last night.
Last night. I blink and tentatively sit up. I’m surprised my head doesn’t hurt more. My mind keeps flicking up images, snapshots. His body in the corner of my vision as he jumped up, teetering for a second, before disappearing into the darkness on the other side of pool fence. The look in Michael’s wide eyes as he flew past me down the stairs, while I fumbled with the gate. The pale skin of his back against the dark shadows as he lay slumped over the metal rail and everything standing still for a beat. Then a kaleidoscope of movement, pulling the gate open, reaching down as the boys struggle to lift him towards me. Grasping his 100kg frame under the armpits and dragging him clear of the dark pit. Then blood, so much blood. Somewhere in there the emergency services training kicks in. My hand under his head stabilizing his neck. Fingers into his mouth, scraping blood and teeth clear. My hair still wet and dripping from the pool, hanging in the growing pool of blood as I lean over him with my ear to his mouth listening and watching his chest for a rise and fall. Someone leaning over me trying to lift my hair clear of the dark pool spreading around us.
My stomach clenches as my mind flicks back to the first image again and in my head I’m there, that moment of free fall, of realizing you are in black space, before…. I shut it down, I can’t think about that.
Like flicking scenes on a film, my mind runs through the images. The police, three different officers asking for my version. The detectives, their eyes scanning for details. The flash of a camera behind me in the pit. The bright white lights from the back of the ambulance. A soft hand finding mine and squeezing reassuringly. My knees shaking as I eventually sink down to the ground.
I stare out of the window. I can hear movement upstairs. I should go up and see what the update is. I stay still, staring, but not seeing the ocean in front of me.
Snorting quietly, I manage a smile. Bloody tough shithead rowers. Another image, his eyes open, looking up sideways at me as he mumbles, “My jaw’s a bit sore.” Sweet Jesus!