"One . . . two . . . three . . ."

I slowly continued to count to myself, my eyes closed as I leaned forward against the trunk of an old tree, trying to prevent myself from peeking as I heard my younger brother giggle a few distances away.

". . . seven . . . eight . . . nine . . . ten," I finished loudly as I quickly opened my eyes, "Ready or not, here I come!"

I dashed away from my counting space as I looked around my backyard, searching for my hiding brother. His loud giggles could still be heard as I kept searching. I smiled as I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I turned around to see a bush in front of me. The bush was fairly large; large enough for someone to hide behind, I realized. My smile grew wider as I sneaked towards the bush. It took everything in my power not to giggle myself as I slowly inched closer. Once I finally reached it, I quickly pulled the branches and leaves back to peer behind the bush.

"Boo!" I shouted. But to my dismay, no one was there.

Then that's when I heard him.

"Anna! Anna! Help!" my brother's screams rang out in my ears, causing a shiver to run down my spine.

"Johnny?" I called desperately, "Johnny?!"

I ran as fast as I could towards the sound of my brother's cries. But what I saw next caused me to stop in my tracks.

I froze in fear and in shock as I watched Johnny helplessly splash around in the nearby lake. His small body kept going under water as he tried desperately to hold himself up. I wanted to help him, to jump in and save him, but I only stood there, in shock. He continued to cry out between chokes as he swallowed up some water; his arms flailed about, as if reaching for something to grab onto. I opened my mouth to try to speak, to call for somebody to save him, but no words could come out. Then just as soon as it started, Johnny's small arms finally gave up. Tears ran down my face while I watched in horror as my brother then disappeared, sinking down into the bottom of the lake . . .

I gasped as I suddenly woke up. I looked around my bedroom as I realize it was just another dream. But it wasn't a dream; it was real. That horrific memory still haunted me, even after all these years.

I pulled at my dark hair as I growled angrily to myself, "You're so stupid! It's your fault. You let him die!"

If only I had done something, I thought as tears streamed down my face, then maybe I could've saved him . . . it's my fault. It's all my fault!