Underneath the Waves: Chapter 8

The family never sat at the kitchen table. Gabrielle would cook and the kids would take their plates to the living room sofa or into their own bedrooms. That night, four family members sat at the table. The air was still and everything was frozen. 

Elizabeth sat, timid and shy, not knowing what was going to be revealed. She knew in her heart that her mother would never leave Edward, so why were there sitting here? Jordan’s left leg was shaking, he knew a bomb was about to drop. He knew he was in trouble, but he was ready to fight back. 

Edward sat silently staring a hole into the table. Occasionally he would look at his children, but never into their eyes. Beside Edward sat Gabrielle’s sister, Samantha Sanders. Her hair wasn’t as fiery as Gabrielle’s, it sat neatly in a ponytail with natural golden highlights amongst the modest red. Her face was beautifully symmetrical, with a small button nose that held round-rimmed glasses. She was so well put together that it seemed as if she were hiding something deep inside. 

Samantha moved her hand over to Edward’s and gave it a squeeze. The air in the room tightened before her words came into existence and tears ran down her face. 

“Your mother was swimming at Black Stone Beach this morning. She hasn’t returned and rescue crews have been unable to find her.” 

The ocean formed in Elizabeth’s eyes. 

“What do you mean she hasn’t returned?” Jordan asked with a flair of anger that he felt instantly ashamed of. Despite this, his anger grew as his hands began to shake. 

Samantha was now unable to respond. Her composure was broken by the reality of the situation. Her sister was gone. 

Edward, with a mechanical tone, answered his son. “She drowned.” 

“What?” Elizabeth panted, “What? What?” 

That’s all she could say, over and over, as Samantha jumped up from her seat, launching it behind her and pulling Elizabeth into her arms. Elizabeth’s whole body shook. Every breath felt high in her lungs, like there was a whirlpool inside, recycling the same breath in and out as if no new oxygen could enter her body.

Jordan shook his head rapidly from side to side. He squeezed his fists together. 

“Did you see her body?” 

“The search teams are still looking, but she’s gone. The rip was too strong.” 

“But, you don’t know that, do you?” 

Edward slumped in his chair, the sound of Elizabeth’s cries were like distant voices, far removed from his present state of being. His eyes burned a hole in the kitchen table. 

“Well?” Jordan demanded. 

Everything was underwater. Elizabeth’s tears would not stop. Every few seconds she would wipe them away and get a small glimpse of her new reality. She wiped her tears and saw Edward, lifeless, not knowing what to do.

Jordan pounded his fists on the table. 

“Did you even look for her? What the hell are you doing here?” 

Samantha looked over at Jordan, “Jordan, honey-“ 


The whirlpool inside Elizabeth’s lungs finally released as she panted out the last few words: “Jordan, wait!”

But, Jordan had already left. He stormed out, leaving the women weeping and his father defeated. 

The cold penetrated Jordan’s clothes. He slammed the front door behind him and stormed past Samantha’s car. A foreign object where Gabrielle’s car should have been. A thought hit Jordan. 

He spun around and ripped open the front door. He grabbed his father’s keys in the bowl by the door and ran. 

Upon realization, Edward jumped to his feet. “Jordan! Don’t!” 

Edward caught Jordan as he was tumbling with the keys, trying to steal Edward’s ute. “Why not?” thought Jordan, “No one else is doing anything.” 

The thoughts were not completely articulate, but the emotional pull Jordan felt was stronger than anything he’d experienced before. He would stop at nothing to find his mother. When his mind returned to the present, he found himself on the ground being held tightly by Edward’s strong grip. Through the grief and rage, Jordan didn’t even know that he was screaming. 

At one o’clock the next morning, Elizabeth sat up in her bed and wiped the crust and dry tears from her eyes. Immediately she could feel that everyone in the house was awake and listening. She could hear Jordan moving about in his room and the click of the lamp on his desk. 

At first, it wasn’t clear to Elizabeth why she was drawn out of bed and into the hallway. Her eyes fixed on the light spilling from the bottom of Jordan’s bedroom door and she soon felt the craving for comfort. She wanted warmth and words of compassion. She wanted the big brother who, in a distant memory, would hold her hand and make her feel safe. 

She tapped on his door lightly.

Jordan was at his desk, sketching something that Elizabeth couldn’t make out. He held his head in his right hand and looked over at Elizabeth with a strangely welcoming gaze. A gaze that suggested that his door was always open, despite the fact that this was not true. 

She timidly walked over the threshold into a room she hadn’t entered in years. The walls were covered in posters of bands she had never heard of. White corpse paint and dark figures painted the walls. To Elizabeth, her brother seemed like a portal that bridged the dimension between sound and sight.  

She wasn’t sure how long she had been sitting on his bed before she noticed that he was sobbing. His back rose and fell in irregular patterns as he tried to focus on his sketch. Elizabeth stood up and gently placed her hand on his back. His body was moving in the rhythm of her buried soul, tumbling down into the pools below. Elizabeth buried her own needs so that she could take care of her brother.

Jordan dropped his pencil down and covered his face with both hands, his elbows firmly on his desk. He felt the warmth of his sister’s hand on his back and let it comfort him for only a few moments. 

“I’m ok. I’m alright.” He said, in a voice interrupted by emotion. “I’m going to find her. This isn’t over.”

Downstairs, Samantha broke the silence that the adults had been bathing in for the past half hour. 

“The last thing I said to her was that I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t watch the kids.” She started to well up, “I don’t even know why I said no. Maybe if I had…” She trailed off, unable to finish her sentence. 

Moments later, Samantha got to her feet and wiped her face. Her voice changed into something a little more stable. 

“I think Jordan will need a lot of help through this. Maybe more than you think.” 

Edward merely nodded to himself and Samantha put her hand on his shoulder and left it there for a long time. 

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