The Incident at the Pool

Sherrie stood at the edge of the high dive at Community Pool in her brand-new turquoise swimsuit. Her 10-year-old toes hung over the edge, and she wiggled them.

She bent over — not too far — and peered at the bright blue water 6 feet below. She was 4’6”, so that was her plus another foot and a half. Another eighteen inches.

Sherrie got A’s in math.

The water sparkled in the summer sun. The glossy leaves on the oak tree just outside the pool were so green they made her eyes hurt in a happy kind of way. She wished she were climbing that tree. You didn’t have to jump out of trees.

She squeezed the pool water from her blonde ponytail. It dripped cold down her back, giving her goosebumps.

She wished she hadn’t bragged aloud that she was going to jump from the high dive. Especially to Harvey Ackerman.

She looked over at her mom, sunning in a lawn chair with the other moms, keeping an eye on her baby brother. She waved. Great, Mom was watching, too. Weakly, Sherri waved back.

“We’re waaaaaaaaiiiiiiiting!” The voice came from behind her. She twisted to see who it was. Harvey. Great.

“Are you a scaredy-cat or what?” he challenged from the top step. Four other kids were behind him. Just great.

“You can do it, Sherrie” shouted Bailey from the edge of the pool.

“Yeah, but she WON’T,” Harvey called down to her. “Sherrie’s a scaredy-cat!”

“Shut up, Harvey,” Bailey retorted, reaching down to splash water in the boy’s direction.

“At least she has the smallest kid in the class to defend her. Right, Shortie?” he said. Bailey stood, arms on her hips, and gave Harvey a death glare. He sneered back.

Then he looked up at Sherrie again. Stepping up on the board, he declared: “I’m going to push you off.” He took a step toward her, but the lifeguard blew her whistle, and he stepped back rather than risk getting kicked out of the pool. He narrowed his eyes at Sherrie.

“Come on, we want to jump! You’re wasting our time,” shouted another kid waiting on the ladder. The others chorused their agreement.

She would never live it down if she didn’t jump. And two more kids had joined the line. She didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t jump from the high dive this summer.

Sherrie wiggled her toes over the edge of the board, looked down at the water. It was only 6 feet. 72 inches. Two yardsticks. She bounced on the ball of her feet, took a deep breath. Looked down at the water.

That did it. No more fear. Not today. Not ever again. She turned to face the big fat hairy bully at the top of the ladder.

“Harvey Ackerman, get off the ladder.”

“I’m not getting off the ladder.”

“Maybe not. But I’m coming down.”

“Told ya she was scared,” the boy crowed to the kids in line.

“I. Said. Get. Off. The. Ladder.”

Harvey and the other kids backed down the ladder in silence then, and she didn’t even care about their glares.

Sherrie strode over to her mom. “Mom, I don’t want to jump.”

Mom shrugged. “No one said you had to.” A proud smile crinkled her eyes.

“But I decided I will do the violin solo at the community concert next month.”

“With the whole city there and everything?”

Sherrie winced at the gentle reminder of what she told Dad yesterday about the invitation from her violin teacher. Then she grinned. No more fear. “Yep.”

Another crinkly-eyed smile. “Well, then. Good for you.”

Sherrie jogged over to Bailey. “Wanna race across the pool, backstroke?” she said.

The End



By the way: Coming up Monday will be another in my Barometer Mountain 52-week photo challenge. We got a bit of snow today, so I’ll bet there’s some on Barometer when I go this afternoon to take the picture for the Monday post.