Hi, my name is Ruth O’Leary and I live in Dublin with my husband, three sons, and our beloved golden retriever called Rusky.
I work as a freelance movie extra and I have worked on many TV dramas and big movie sets. I love writing and I have been a member of Writers Ink since February this year. I write short stories and flash fiction. My short stories have appeared in Womans way and Ireland’s Own.
Currently I am working on my first novel. I write women’s fiction and my novel is about four friends on their annual Christmas weekend away. Each has a secret that reveals itself over the weekend. Will their friendship be strong enough to withstand the shocking revelations?
I have found Writers Ink to be invaluable for all the help and advice and encouragement. As well as working on my novel, I continue to write short stories and I try to enter at least two competitions a month. I find competitions very motivating.
Water Baby by Ruth O’Leary
The cold damp tiles send a shiver through me as I walk towards the edge, the water calling me. I close my eyes and inhale the familiar, comforting, chlorine scented air.
Mum took me to a mother and baby swim session when I was just six months old and I have loved the water ever since. All through primary school I swam every week and when I started secondary school, I qualified for the county swim team. Being on a competitive swim team meant getting up at 5.30am for training, 6 days a week but I never missed a session. I could block out the outside world and loose myself in my thoughts.
Swimming 6 days a week and competing at weekends, left little time for anything else and I guess this isolated me. Mum was worried as I never went out, except for swimming and school. One was heaven, one was hell. Teachers expressed concern that I was always on my own. I was happy on my own, in my own world but I guess this made people uncomfortable and made me an easy target. Mum and Dad did ask repeatedly if everything was okay at school and I repeatedly told them that everything was fine.
I didn’t want them to know how bad things were. It wasn’t their fault that their only daughter was a loner, an oddball, a weirdo. They call it bullying but really it is mental torture. No-one ever hit me. My swimming saved me from that. They knew I swam everyday so if they beat me up, it would show immediately. You can hide very little in a swimsuit.
The taunts, the chants, name calling, gossip and lies happened daily. But every time I got into the pool, I felt like I was washing their abuse away. The cruelty was always there. It chipped away at any joy in my life. The only place I felt safe was in the pool. Water was my friend, my safety, my refuge.
That’s why the pool will be the obvious place my parents will look for me. First, I will not arrive home from school. Then mum will ring the school, to find that I had left school early with a forged note I gave to the teacher. The pool doesn’t open until 5pm but I have a swim team key and that’s how I let myself in. I feel sorry for the caretaker because he will find me first, but I have apologised to him in letters I have left in my kit bag.
I know my parents will be heartbroken and I am extremely sorry for that too. I have tried to show them in my letter that the worst day of their lives is the best day of my life. Making this decision has made me the happiest I have ever been. Somehow, I feel my whole life has been leading up to this. The present, the future, it is just too hard, too painful. It is time to let go.
I just want to float away. I want to stay in the water forever. The water has been my only friend, my safe house, my resting place.