White lightning flashed, illuminating the night sky and pulsing like veins of a heart. Flashing and crackling. She sat with her legs dangling into the murky water, creating the only disturbance in the lake for a few miles. No fish dared to surface for fear of being stricken by Mother Nature. The girl decided, shivering, her bare legs soaked, that if the storm wanted to kill her it would’ve already. With stiff cold fingers she grasped at the fabric edge of her shirt, lifting it over her head. Goosebumps arose on her newly exposed skin. The night sky covered her in a fog; she was only seen by the lighting. Swiftly she slid off her shorts and placed them on the algae-covered wood beside her. Using her hands, she slowly submerged her body in the lake, blind for moments at a time until the sky briefly revealed her bare, freezing body. The air just above the water reeked of sour pollution. Sinking all the way, she let the lake swallow her head. Now there were just faint claps of thunder muted by the murk. When the sky flashed so did the lake floor, revealing shadowy trees threatening to pull her in, teasing her with outstretched claws. Yet the bottom was so far from her feet she didn’t feel as if the trees could reach her if they tried. It just felt good to be submerged and silent from the rest of the world. When her lungs ached, she surfaced and took a deep breath of the dense air and opened her eyes to the complicated network of flashes above her. For a minute she floated and watched, eyes and lake capturing every light in their reflection. Then she pulled herself back up on top of the dock, dripping on the wooden panels. With feeble fingers she pulled her shirt back over her head. Shivering from her soaked clothes, the girl slowly started on her way home.
Madelyn Campbell is a 16-year-old sophomore currently attending Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, Virginia. Madelyn has swam competitively for ten years, and also runs for her high school cross country and track team. When not at school or practice, she loves painting, reading, and having deep conversations with loved ones until way too late at night. In her first published piece, “Black” she writes about the color black to evoke feelings opposite from the stereotypical emotions with which the color is commonly associated.