He had that infectious laugh that would make others, from across any room, turn around and at least crack a smile if not fall out from laughter.  He had an aura about him; he was just the type of person that one minute you were shaking his hand in introduction and the next, you were calling him for advice.  He was handsome, brilliant, cunning and a kind soul.  He had traveled all the way from Atlanta that day.  He was headed to see his first cousin and celebrate her engagement to a man he had never met.  It had been a while since he had seen that side of his family, but he wasn’t worried.  He knew that seeing them would seem like just yesterday they were together.  He knew life didn’t last forever, and he had always heard how important family was.

Her phone lit up with a frightening text message exclaiming an immediate response.  She didn’t like the feeling she had in the pit of her stomach as she dialed his number.  Her brother on the other end seemed frantic.  “Have you talked to mom and dad,” he said. 

By the sound of his voice and the shaking she could clearly hear through the reception, she knew something had happened.  “Jeff drowned in a lake last night,” her brother wailed. 

She felt the lump in her throat rise and she continued listening to her brother sob.  “Oh my…what?  Are you serious,” she said.  “Yes,” he said.  “Or at least that is what it sounds like.”

It always took her a couple of minutes before tragedy hit her hard.  She wore shock as if a gown for at least 30 minutes before her tear ducts finally connected to her brain and began to overflow with salty tears.

He went on to tell the story that Jeff’s brother had called him and said Jeff went missing from a boat at midnight last night. 

As family began pouring to Atlanta for answers, the story became more surreal.  She could not imagine this happening.  She had recently seen Jeff more times in the last year than she could ever remember.  She had shared so many memories with him. 

“Tess won’t release the clothes he had on that night and before his cell phone was returned, the SIM card was removed,” she heard through conversation. 

As facts, or the resemblance of facts began pouring in, the circumstances had already proven to be bizarre.  The three people on the boat with Jeff had waited some time before they called for help.  “Who in the hell wouldn’t jump in the water if their friend became distressed?” she thought.  Some friends they were.

Her mind and body felt numb.  Every waking moment, she replayed what might of happened and searched every inch of her mind to see his face.  Why was it after someone died, you couldn’t put together a picture of one’s face clearly? 

Was he it at peace?  Did he suffer?  Were his “friends” responsible for his death?  It was the sixth day of searching and still no body was found.  The water was deep, 140 feet at some points in that dreary lake.  The water must be satanic, she thought.  Eleven people had drowned in eight months and only five of them had been found. 



About Journalism Instructor at NWCC

A journalism instructor at Northwest Mississippi Community College
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