Kala by Kelsea Ryan

When the wind capsized our raft, I was no longer laughing. I was not making any sound. My body contorted and my head moved from side to side in a panic. I gulped for air, but got mouthfuls of water instead. My eyes blurred with tears, and even though my sister was within arm’s reach, I could not see her.

I should not have been in the raft. At four years old I could not swim. Kala would be fine; she was five years my senior and a remarkable swimmer. But my useless body stood no chance. My short life would end in the waters of Lake Nacimiento. I began to lose consciousness.

Seconds, moments, a minute passed. I could breathe again. Kala’s hands were tight around my thighs as she held me up. I looked down and saw her silhouette beneath me. I wondered how fast I would sink when she let go. In the distance, a man was swimming towards us. He would rescue us. I bobbed in the water, waiting for him to approach, waiting for Kala to join me at the surface. She treaded water beneath me, pushing me far above her head. The man grabbed me to him and started swimming towards shore. I realized he only saw me. I gripped Kala’s hair, begging her to surface. I was too weak. It was too late. Her blonde hair disappeared into the depths. That was the last time I saw my sweet sister. Her courage became my life, and her death.


Kelsea Ryan earned her BS in psychobiology from UCLA and is working to complete her master’s in experimental psychology at SJSU.


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