I had a sister once, but she drowned. I was a kid and barely remember--little flickering scenes from the funeral home, but nothing from the funeral. My mother's face, and how I thought she looked so tired and sad and so I didn't ask any questions, though now it seems like I must have had a thousand questions. I don't remember what any of them were. It's mostly left me with a fear of the water. Even when it rains, there's just this generalized panic, like something is going to go terribly wrong. Naturally, I spend the winter in Seattle terrified.

The thing is I'm not afraid of something happening to me. It's other people. The water makes people disappear, and then they lie there all pale and still in a nice dress they never wore while somber men in dark suits stand by, watching, speaking only in muted, respectful tones.

It comes and goes. Some people know what causes their mood swings, but I find it about as explicable as the ocean's currents. They tell me there's a pattern, that you can study it, but it seems to me that it's just a lot of chaotic waves crashing on the rocks. But some days I don't mind walking past the beach with all those vulnerable people there. Other days I cringe when my date drinks water at the restaurant.

On my bad days I have this urge to help people escape, to get them somewhere dry and safe. I know this is crazy, that they are fine, that people gather on beaches daily without dying. It's not hard to restrain myself from trying to save them. The hard part is knowing that I don't want to help people with any of their real problems. I just want to keep them from doing this to someone else's mind.

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