Swim Down

by Lilianna Watson

illustrated by Freya Hammar
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I've always been different than other people.
Lights are too bright.
Noises are too loud.
I don't like to look at other people's faces.
I don't like it when they look at me.
And I really don't like it
when they touch me.
But underwater, everything is different.
The ocean fills my ears and drowns out all the white noise I hear on land.
And I hear something
clearly in the water:
An echoing song ringing out from the depths
and maybe from somewhere inside of me, too.
Swim down.
Facing the surface
The light still burns through my eyelids.
So I listen to the voice,
turn my face to the darkness,
open my eyes,

and swim down.