Nine Seconds Of Breath: A Narrative

via // black rock, maui

  "Are you in?" I asked hopefully, treading water as I let the water pull me in with the current. 

     He pondered carefully before saying, "Ya. Let's go." I smiled at him as we fought the waves swimming back to shore. We were already were swimming for over an hour, and every five minutes I would ask him again and again to take me. And finally, he said yes. The water was the clearest on the island, I could see my toes beneath me. I became comfortable with the fish swimming around me; people said there were turtles here-- I couldn't find any, though. "Okay," he started, "You need to be really careful." 

     "I know," I smiled at him. He's my brother's best friend, room mate, and not blood related brother-- Unev. 
     He continued, "Follow my footsteps at all times, and tell me if you need help. These rocks are sharp, and they move, so you want to step in the right place, you got that?" I nodded. We were going to have to climb twenty feet, barefoot, to jump the cliff. This is what I signed up for. "Let's go then!" He started climbing the rocks, occasionally making sure I was still there and not falling for my life. When my mother screamed to come down, my brother treading water near the place I was going to jump, told me to keep going. So I kept going. There was no way I was going to halfway climb down these rocks again. As I made my way up the rocks, so many thoughts rushed through my head. One of them being: Man, I wish I had a GoPro. "You okay?" he asked. I could only nod-- there was so many emotions, fear, happiness, and most of all- adventurousness going through me. 

     I looked down at my brother in the clear, empty water as he gave me a supportive smile- stretching from ear to ear- and a big thumbs up. I smiled. "Lean towards the rocks, not away from them, use them as support," Unev said. 

     "Mmhh," I replied, my breath speeding up as I turned around to see the waves crashing hungrily only feet beneath myself. At that point I knew if I had let go, nothing would turn out pretty. I threw myself over the last rock, my feet finally reaching the end. A sense of satisfaction flew over me, even though, somehow, I knew-- this struggle wasn't over yet. 

     "Go ahead then," Unev said with a smile, "just jump. Well jump forward, not completely down." I looked down over the ledge as I saw what he meant. I couldn't drop myself from the cliff-- I would hit another rock while coming down. I saw my brother waving at me, motioning me to jump.

     "Bhai," I started, "I'm just scared I'm going to-"

     "No," he interrupted, "just jump. I'm right here. Come on, Vansh. It's barely ten feet. You scared of that?"

     "No," I replied quickly, "Of course not!"

     "Then jump!" he ordered me. I took a deep breath. From the corner of my eyes, I could see my mother's worried expression. I think it was contagious. Inhaling, I thought about how wonderful it would feel to finally finish what I had started. Exhaling, I knew that I was going to jump. It was now or never. 

     "1...2..." Unev said. I looked down to see that I had gathered an audience, "3!" I took a deep breath and jumped. I shut my eyes tight, halfway, half scared, and half elated. 

Three seconds later I felt the air pressure fighting to pull me up.

Four seconds later I let the wind move me.

Five seconds later I wondered why I hadn't hit the water yet.

Six seconds later I was genuinely worried the wind had pulled me away.

Seven seconds later I splashed, canon ball style, into the pure, blue, water.

Eight seconds later I was fighting for breath. 

Nine seconds later I pushed myself up for air, and finally catching my breath, the salty water pierced my lips.

I swam out of the way as Unev jumped in penguin style-- without a moment of hesitation.

"That was awesome," I said out of breath.

"Wasn't so bad, huh?" My brother asked. 

I only nodded.


  1. ooh! i love this! i've never even seen the ocean, much less swam in a place like this, but your writing had me right there. love the line about your thoughts, wishing you had a GoPro. so relatable!

  2. Wow!!! This is a great piece of writing. I love it :) I could not put it down. You are truly gifted, my friend.

  3. Now I wish I could go!! Really amazing you're really good at what you do. <3


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