Authors: Anne Leigh
Copyright © 2013 Anne Leigh
This is an e-book property of Anne Leigh. All rights reserved, unless permitted by the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. This cannot be reproduced, stored, transmitted, or copied in any way, shape, or form, without the permission of the author.
All rights reserved.
This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to peoples living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, pigments, and characters are figments of the author’s imagination. The author is
affiliated with real life swimming organizations, rules, regulations, and international governing bodies.
The author respectfully acknowledges all registered trademarks and owners of trademarked products that may have been included in this work of fiction.
Hecht, A.V. “A Hill.”
The Hard Hours
. Atheneum (New York, New York), 1967.
Cover: Okay Creations
Interior Design: Angela McLaurin, Fictional Formats
Editing: Katie Mac and KMS Editing
To my husband: Because you tell me to enjoy what I do.
To my readers: Because you tell me you enjoy what I write.
More than thirteen years ago…
I took a deep breath, jumped as high as I could, threw my arms up in the air, and rotated my body backwards as I entered the water headfirst. I felt the swirl of the water hit me as I sank further underneath. I kept my knees tucked together for a clean finish.
Whew! What a great flip!
As I swam upwards for air, I blew bubbles out of my nose. This was the best part—the bubbles that formed underneath the water. I loved blowing bubbles in the water. They were way better than those bottled bubbles where you had to blow through a straw to create them.
I pulled on the bottom of my goggles to let the water out. I needed new ones. These old goggles weren’t serving their purpose anymore.
“What’s your name?” I thought I heard a voice before I sank down under the water again. There were too many beginners at the Santa Monica Aquatic Center today. They stayed in the beginners’ pools, but I still didn’t like having too many of them around. I’d have to let my dad know that I’d like to change my practice times. The noise that they made distracted me.
As I re-surfaced for air, I heard the voice again. “Hey, I asked you, what’s your name?”
I pulled my goggles off my head. Was that voice talking to me?
I rubbed my eyes and swam towards the voice. A scrawny girl in a blue swimsuit sat on the side of the pool with her feet hanging over the edge, forming circles in the water. She had long, dark hair that was stuck to her face. I paddled my feet to get closer to her. She was the only one without a gaggle of other kids around her.
“Are you deaf?” She huffed as she pushed her hair away from her face. I squinted my eyes to look at her. The sun’s reflection in the water was blinding my view of her. When I finally got a closer look at her face, I was mesmerized. Her nose was scrunched and her forehead was wrinkled into a frown, but her eyes were what drew me in. Wow! They were not blue or green. Were they... violet?
I swam closer to her. Who was she? She was new here. Obviously, she didn’t know that some boys liked to be left alone. Boys like me.
I continued to ignore her. She splashed her feet, and since I was so close, her action caused water to get inside my mouth that was wide open because I was about to say something to her. This girl was annoying. I spat the water out, and moved to her right, ready to climb up and leave.
“Fine. I guess you don’t want to tell me your name,” she said with a snicker, “It’s cool with me. But can you just show me how to do the flip that you did a couple of minutes ago?”
I didn’t answer her. I placed both of my hands on the concrete to push myself up and leave. I was not one for chatting it up with a girl who could not do basic back flips, even if she had unique-colored eyes. Especially if that girl splashed pool water into my mouth.
“What if we make a bet?” Her tiny voice was clear against all the noise.
That stopped me. I liked bets. That was how I got my baseball cards–they were going to be collector’s items one of these days. I always won when someone bet against me.
“What kind of bet?” I asked as I sat beside her. She was still kicking her legs under the water.
“Now, you’re talking to me?” She said, “I don’t know; you make it up. If I win, you tell me your name and teach me how to do the flip. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about our bet. See my dad over there?” She pointed towards a big guy who sat on a bench, reading a newspaper. “He wants me to make friends. I just want to be alone so I can read my books. But, he won’t stop bringing me here until I make some. If he sees me talking to you, he’s gonna think I’m making friends so he’ll be happy.”
This girl talked too much.
“Stay here,” I said and walked up to where my jeans were and took out a quarter from one of the pockets.
“Do you know how to swim?” I asked. Her chin was turned up. She was cute. If she visited my school, she’d have tons of guys crushing on her.
“Okay, if you can find this quarter when I drop it, I will tell you my name and teach you the backflip that I just did.” She was going to chicken out. Girls chickened out all the time.
She stood up and said, “Go ahead. Throw it.”
The pool was only 8-feet deep. I shrugged my shoulder. Fine, she was going for it. We’ll see if she could find it.
I threw the quarter. She jumped into the water.
She did know how to swim, right? Seconds passed and her head was not surfacing.
. Maybe she didn’t know how to swim. What did I just do? I didn’t mean to hurt her. I jumped in the water but the lifeguard was faster than I was.
Next thing I knew, she was being pulled up from the water, and the lifeguard was placing his hand on her chest after laying her body on the ground. He pushed his hands on her chest and a few seconds later, she sputtered water from her mouth and nose, coughing it all out. Her dad was now by her side. He looked scared and panicked.
Her dad hugged her and asked, “Why did you do that?” She didn’t respond.
Then, he was scolding her, “You know better than to do something like that! You scared me! Go get your clothes. We’re going home.”
She lightly nodded her head and walked towards the chair where a pile of clothes was stacked. Her shoulders were slumped. It was not fair for her to get yelled at. She must have been scared, and now her dad was upset at her, too.