The smell of polluted water wafts into his nostrils, stinging the hairs inside them. The closer he got, the more pungent the smell encased his senses. The entire area was darkened by the night with only the lights in the distance off of the horizon to provide slight illumination. Brendon takes big steps, but remains very cautious of where he places his feet. He pushes himself up and over a large rock, and touches something slimy. Without hesitation, he shakes his hand and brushes the substance onto his pants. An intense feeling of anxiety rushes over him and almost makes him want to stop his search. Placing his feet on solid ground, he stares out at this body of water.
Broken glass from old beer bottles and cigarette butts are littered all over. In the dark, it’s impossible to tell that the stingy color of the water is a murky green. He follows the incline down into the water and stops when he feels the water soaking into his socks.
His heart pounding, he doubts his mind on what he’s actually searching for. He questions if he should turn back, he doesn’t even know what he’s heading towards.
“Jeremiah!” A shrill voice calls behind him. Kaia emerges from the darkness, standing next to the rock he climbed over.
He turns, squinting his eyes to get a better look at her.
“Kaia? What-how did you-”
Before he could finish, she inches her way down into the waters after him.
“Wait! You can’t leave yet.” She yells toward him, splashing into the water. Dropping her teddy bear in the midst of the darkness, she throws her arms around him, squeezing as tight as possible.
The water, reaching up to her thighs, soaks her leggings and bottom trim of her shirt. Her short arms couldn’t reach around his body, but it feels like she was trying as hard as she could to touch both of her hands together.
“Kaia,” he could feel her entire spirit wrapping herself around him and how hurt she was. “I have to. I’m sorry, but-”
“I know, this isn’t your home.” She says with her face buried in his waist.
Without saying anything, he suddenly hears her voice in his head.
I’m sorry that this wasn’t what you wanted. I know your family must miss you, but for as long you’ve been here, when you return, it will feel like no time has passed there. I hope nothing too bad has happened while you’ve been away. I hope everything is as you remember it. I don’t know if you’ll remember me or any of us when you get back, but I won’t forget you Brendon. I know you’re not my brother, but I hope while you’ve been here, you felt like you gained a sister. Try to be happy, okay? You were chosen by people who want you. And I know it’s hard, but I have faith in you. You’re going to be okay. I love you Brendon.
He hugs her back for what feels like an hour. Even though this wasn’t his sister, he could feel the intense love that the boy in this dimension had for her.
“I-” Kaia lets him go and looks up at him. “I’ll miss you Brendon. Get home safely please.”
Brendon kneels down to look in her eyes. They sparkle the same way he would see in himself. She had never called him by his name before. Instinctively, he wants to question her, but he knows that it’d be better to not ask.
“Your siblings are lucky to have you, don’t forget that.” He hugs her once more.
She smiles at him, flashing the few open gaps of teeth she was missing. She turns to look at the pool of water, gleaming in the darkness.
“Good luck. Don’t die.” She says, before picking up her teddy bear that was drifting off and now soaking wet, and running back up the ditch and off to her home.
Brendon thinks those were strange last words for her to say till he turns back and sees the spot of water she had been staring at now glowing a faint peach color.
“Shit.” He mumbles to himself. He knew why he was drawn here, and knew this would be the universe’s final laugh at his existence.
Brendon didn’t have a fear of water, but he had extreme anxiety about submerging his face into it. He never really went swimming and taking showers never involved him running the water over his face. So when he could see the water in the reservoir starting to glow, he could feel in his chest that he was supposed to swim directly into it.
He takes a few steps deeper in, feeling the cold dampen his entire pants. Anxiety begins to set in again, but he knows he can’t back down. He takes one deep breath.
“I can do this. I have to do this”
Another deep breath.
“If anyone can do this, I can. It’s just water.”
One last deep breath. This time, holding it in, closing his eyes, and diving head first into the water, aiming for the glowing spot.
He’s hesitant to open, but through all the dirt that plagues the reservoir, a bright swirl flashes brightly just a few meters down. It looks to be the size of a child’s play car. It glows with colors of dusty pink and rustic orange and appears to be blinking with a tint of yellow.
Brendon paddles his way through the grey muck, heading towards the light. He’s never timed how long he can hold his breath, so he swims faster, harder, unaware that he’s using up more oxygen. With only a meter to go, he can feel his lungs starting to give out.
Just a few inches more.
He reaches his hand out as he nears the bright circle and gets sucked into the intense pull of its atmosphere.
In the blink of an eye, he’s no longer swimming in dirty water, but finds himself in a multi-colored mist that is dragging him further down. He hears multiple voices coming in from all directions. The sounds of past conversations with his mother, fights with his brother, laughing with his friends rings throughout his eardrums. He can feel them. He can feel his spirit, what he used to be. It feels like home. His true home.
Without warning, the pull stops like someone slammed on the brakes in a car. Brendon’s mind goes silent and nothing speaks around him. He wants to call out, but doesn’t know what to even say.
“Hey.” A slightly deep voice says to his left.
He turns to see himself. Same height, slightly more toned build, but it was him. It was Jeremiah.
“You’re-” Brendon pauses for a second to scan the person up and down. “You’re Jeremiah.”
“Yeah I am. And I don’t know what you’re thinking, but you’re not coming back here.”