The Pool – 10/23/03, Fear Fiction
After they all had gotten fairly drunk, Krystal suggested they take a dip in her pool. You can’t refuse the birthday girl, and besides, swimming at night sounded pretty good. Mark was the only one who disagreed. Swimming in general sounded bad to him, and the six pack he’d just inhaled wasn’t going to change that. He smiled and went along with the group anyway. Everyone went out back and stripped down to their boxers and underwear, except Mark. He sat on the side, holding his beer, with his feet in the water at the far end of the pool. The girls jumped in first and a few guys followed.
Mark watched them in the pool having fun. He watched Adam, espcially. They had gone to grade school together, but were never friends. Adam was the only one who knew about Mark’s problem, and he’d use it to embarass him any chance he’d get.
In eigth grade during gym class the teacher decided she was going to conduct her class in the pool. It was the end of the school year and the air had broken. It was designed to be a “treat” for the class, but it ended up being a horrible experience for Mark.
Mark had refused to get into the pool. He explained he didn’t know how to swim, while the class laughed at him. The teacher held him after class as a result and chose Adam to stay as punishment for edging the class on to laugh at Mark. When it was just them left, and the teacher had turned her back for a moment, Adam pushed Mark into the pool. He would have drowned if the teacher hadn’t pulled him out, and Adam was given a school detention.
Even in his drunken state of mind he still could not rid himself of his fear. Besides, how would he tell them he can’t swim? He turned around and watched his friends Matt and Tony talk, and when they looked at him he looked away. He stood up slowly and tried to decide whether he wanted to sit on one of the chairs outside or go back into the house.
Mark walked over to the plastic patio furniture, pulled a chair out, and sat down on it’s flowered cushion. He watched as those in the pool gradually got out, complaining it was too cold. They went inside leaving only Tony, Matt, Krystal, Nina, Adam and himself outside. As he lifted the can of beer to his lips, someone’s hand touched his arm. He looked to his right and saw Adam standing next to him. “Don’t you wanna go in the pool, Mark?” Adam asked.
“Nah, they’re saying its cold,” Mark replied. Mark returned to his beer, and Adam walked over to Matt. He watched Nina, Tony’s girl, jump off the side at the deep end. As she surfaced, she started waving her arms and yelling for help between breaths. Mark stood up and walked to the edge of the pool as Tony ran past him and dove in. When Tony grabbed her she began laughing hysterically along with the other girls.
Mark made himself smile at the joke, even as his heart pounded against his rib cage. He was all too familiar with the situation she had just made a joke out of. He watched Tony and Nina climb out of the pool, grab towels, and run into the house – leaving Krystal in the pool alone. He looked down and realized he was standing on the edge of the deep end. As he started to take a step back, Matt grabbed him by both shoulders and pushed. The beer can flew forward and bounced to the shallow end as Mark sank to the bottom.
He could hear Krystal call Matt an asshole for getting beer in the pool, and him telling her to go to hell. He opened his eyes and realized Krystal had gotten out – most likely to throw the can away. He kept telling himself to hold his breath over and over, and when he reached the surface he sucked in half a breath of air. He splashed a little and managed to get most of the word help out.
Matt laughed, “Nice making fun of Nina when she’s not around.” Mark let out a few bubbles as his chest became tight. Panic set in when Matt’s voice became dulled by the ringing of his ears. “Stop playing around, it’s not funny.” At least that’s what he thought he heard as he struggled to fight suffication; to hold onto the last drop of air in his lungs. The surface was too far away now. He waited and waited and then it all went dull.
Matt turned around to Adam concerned, “Shouldn’t we get him? Is he okay?”
Adam laughed. As he turned around and walked into the house, he said, “I tried.”