October 30th
Breathe, You Idiot
by rachel chada

A flood of moonlight washed over Jules as she came to consciousness while a painful ringing in her ears built to a dramatic crescendo. Her eyes flew open. Jules lay there for a moment, trapped in her body. Frozen.

Breathe, you idiot. Breathe.

Jules desperately gasped for air, becoming more and more aware of her surroundings with every short breath. A gentle rocking and the heavy, salty air quickly oriented her. The moonlight, creeping through a small window in the damp room–if you can even call it that– confirmed what her other senses suggested to her.

How the hell did I end up on a boat? Jules recognized that she had no memory of the prior day and felt certain that her plans would not have included a casual boat tour.

Too panicked to lurch into action, Jules sat still, carefully examining the foreign location she now found herself in. Sleeping quarters. Barely. A sad excuse for a cot, a soggy box of what appeared to be fishing supplies, a few worn books, and scraps of paper littered the floor.

Sitting in silence, her short and frequent breaths filled the room. Suddenly, the feeling that she wasn’t alone crept over Jules’ body. She couldn’t be. She can barely navigate her way to work, how would she have ended up here on her own?

Moving stiffly, Jules grabbed the first thing she saw beside the cot. A pen. Though a pen can be damaging when put to paper, it was doubtful she could do any serious physical damage with one. Still, having something in her hand brought her a sense of security.

“Hello?” Jules shouted into the abyss, her voice quivering. No response.

Panic settled in as her movement began to quicken. Jules frantically scanned the sleeping quarters for something familiar. Nothing. She spotted a ladder presumably leading up to the main deck. She stood, paralyzed.

Breathe, you idiot. Breathe.

After a moment, Jules worked up the courage to pull herself up to the deck. She felt certain she’d meet her...what? Captor? It still felt surreal. The uncertainty of it all terrified her more than what she could be stumbling upon.

Jules emerged from the sleeping quarters to the deck, her hand gripping the pen, trying not to shake. She was greeted by a whip of cold air, an unfriendly mist, and silence. Her bare feet delicately met the frigid deck as she turned around to discover that she was, in fact, alone.

“Hello? Hello? HELLO?” Jules shouted into the empty night, over and over, becoming more desperate with every attempt. Nothing.

Standing still, too cold to begin to cry, Jules stared out over the dark ocean. In the distance, she spotted a lighthouse enveloped in fog. Unsure of her next move, frustrated that she could remember nothing, and terrified to meet her fate, Jules sat on the deck and watched the tiny lighthouse approach.

Breathe, you idiot. Breathe.

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