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If I Die Before I Wake
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If I Die Before I Wake
descriptive shortstory of guilt and a young girl's agony over an event she was powerless to stop, but still feels responsible for. i wont give away anymore, sorry
[1,049 words]
Sarah Levine Sahara
15 year old who attends a highschool in South Louisiana. I really like to write when I have time, but I am bad at judging my own stuff.
[February 2001]
[email protected]
Dismay (Poetry) It's about my school...won an award for most oppressive school in America [133 words]
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If I Die Before I Wake
Sarah Levine Sahara

The sun was setting on that crisp autumn evening and all of the birds had settled into their nests for the night. A slight trace of the ever-watching moon glimmered in the dusky sky; its reflection echoing onto still waters and the sun splashed a fiery painting across the horizon. Marsh grasses seemed to almost whisper amongst themselves in the chilled breeze. Far away, there was a resonance of the throttle belonging to a lone shrimp boat, returning to the harbor. I stood awhile in that place, watching the day die, feeling the pulsing of my own heart in its cage.
 Lately, a sort of melancholy had taken hold of me and I could not seem to easily brush it off so I had I turned to the marsh for some sort of solace for it seemed to whisper to me words of encouragement that only I could hear. The sun slipped below the horizon, leaving only crimson clouds as proof that she had ever even existed. I shivered as the twilight air blew to me in a soft breeze whipped off the ever-near sea.
“Ruth! Ruth!” Her words broke the silent mirror of that night in which I was lost. It was times like this that I wished I could walk into the marsh and never come back again. I turned around to face her with cold in my eyes but she did not notice the iciness at all. Instead, she said,
“Come in, come in. It is too cold here and you will be sick.”
There was that look in her eyes again; she did not want me so near the marsh alone for such lengths of time, and maybe she was right. It seemed to beckon to me as I followed her unwillingly inside. The house was very warm and pleasant enough. A fire burned brightly in the fireplace and he was in his usual chair, smoking a pipe and musing over the paper. She was in the kitchen, washing some dishes. I sat near the hearth, tracing my finger along the stones of which it was made of. The talk was amiable enough.
“ Would you like a drink?”
“ Why yes, whiskey if you don’t mind.”
 The clattering of a bottle against a crystal glass.
“ So, big shrimp hauls today I suspect?”
A sigh.
“Yes, in fact so many shrimp, the nets nearly broke in two.”
“ Terrific dear.”
 Another rustle of pages turning.
I could feel their eyes watching me, studying me, waiting for my next move. My mind was spinning madly with wild thoughts; my face burning from their piercing stares. What would they say if I told them that I wanted to walk into the marsh and never come back again? Would they reply so quaintly to that statement as they do everything else? I gazed into the fire, and listened to the popping and crackling of burning logs.
“Who would burn with if you ever had to burn at all?” Someone had asked me some time ago. And I had answered without even really thinking,
“My best friend.”
 I had not said whom I really would have burned with, which was myself. The clock ticked softly on its wall then chimed that it was half past six o’clock. I announced I was going to bed and trudged the winding stairs up to my room. I could still hear their voices drifting from the downstairs and I knew what they were talking about, they were discussing me like always.
“She is sad right now, and I just can’t figure out why.”
“Now, you know as well as I do, girls get like this sometimes. And besides, the accident, it is still there for her.”
“Perhaps you are right, but she is just not the same person as she was… before”
“Give her time, she has to heal. She still thinks the whole accident was her fault.”
I closed my eyes and much against my will, her screams came to play loudly again in my memory. I could hear her splashing frantically in the water and then the silence, the silence made me cringe. I could still picture that clear sunny day and feel the sun on my back. Guilt, like a tidal wave washed over my entire being, and I felt sick.
“ No, no, no” I muttered aloud. My breath caught in my chest and I could barely breath. Gasping, I shoved the window open and leaned out into the night air. Breathing in, breathing out, I clenched the sill of my window until my knuckles were white. “ You killed her!” I cried breathlessly.
As if to reply, the water of the marsh lapped onto its bank. Her murderer was my only comfort, and because of that, I felt traitorous. Now I could smell the mud and reeds carried to me in the draft and I could nearly smell her too. She was still there, resting peacefully in the reeds, with only the crabs and gulls for her company. Mayhap she was lonely. Was she angry with me? It was not my fault; it was the marsh that took her, not me. I saw the quiet moon’s reflection on the distant bay.
“ She needs you,” whispered that pale advisor, “she wants to be with you.”
I waited in my window for quite sometime then slid away from the night back into the room. There was complete silence downstairs which told me that they had retired for the evening. I stole quietly down the stairs and through the living room without so much as a creak or groan from the chilly wooden floors.
 The cold night was a relief and the stars shown with a brightness unaccustomed to me and my breath appeared before me as I smiled. She was not so far away now. Reeds bended on an autumn breeze then straightened themselves one last time and somewhere not so far away, there was the unmistakable cry of loon. The water was not so cold to me. The moon shined brighter, the stars twinkled a bit madder in the sky, and one lone leaf, caught in the sea’s wind, fluttered to the damp ground.
“I am coming.” I breathed. “ I am coming.”



"Absolutely fantastic. " -- Damon, Dublin, Ireland.
"thanks! you made my day!-sarah" -- sahara.
"congrads Sahara! " -- Sarah Cancienne.
"This is a touching piece of writing. At 15? you are very talented. The story has an aura of mystery to it. Its a great Read!!" -- Amir, Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom.
"that story moved me, and i am happy to be her muse....or so i think i am, at least for that piece. love you lee. " -- katers, south louisiana.
"Sarah, good work, it kept me entertained in the bowls of civics class! - good job" -- jo, baton rouge, la, usa.
"Remarkable detail, and don't allow anyone to tell you any different." -- EC Allen.
"You are only 15? Remarkable! Such a poignant and richly visual tale ... I have one story posted here 'Critters', would really like your comments if you have time" -- Judi Goff, Tampa , Fl, USA.
"Well written. You build up the mood of the piece very effectively and you don't make it too explicit: the temptation would be to describe all the details of their relationship and the accident, and this isn't what's interesting to a reader. You stay inside the mind of your central character and let us see the world through her eyes. Quite haunting. A very mature piece." -- David Gardiner, London, England.
"It's impossible to review this as just 'another piece of writing' Normally writing is writing and things like gender, race age and such don't matter, but you can't read this without being aware of your age and not be impressed. This would be an excellent story from someone with a lifetime of living under their belt, to come from a fifteen year old schoolgirl (sorry I hope this doesn't sound condescending I don't mean to be)is incredible. Well done. " -- Sooz, Dalton, Cumbria, England.
"An absolutely brillant piece of work! You should be proud, writing like this does not come easy, at 15, it is remarkable and obvious that you have a natural God given talent. Keep writing, looking forward to reading more from you." -- Monte, USA.
"Wonderful piece of work. You're talented beyond your years. You would perhaps benifit from not using "was" so often. Many times you're "telling" the story rather than letting the reader actually "read" the story. for instance...you wrote: "The sun was setting on that crisp autumn evening and all of the birds had settled into their nests for the night" Try something like this... On that crisp autumn evening the sun slowly dipped into the horizon and all of the birds had settled into their nests for the night. You're letting the reading see the sun slowly setting rather than telling him that it's setting. The above is simply an example of course, and you'll want to find your own voice, but i think this suggestion may help your readers which of course makes you a better writer. Just a suggestion, hope it helps. " -- Scott.


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© 2001 Sarah Levine Sahara
February 2001

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