Water—cool, wet, and dangerous. The serene appearance of the water’s surface alerted no one of the peril I was in. Everyone above most likely figured I was playing a game—or worse—didn’t even know I was gone. My breath, slowly escaping my lungs, was precious; soon there would be none left. I slowly drifted deeper and deeper into the depths of the water. As the last bubbles of oxygen escaped my lungs, I closed my eyes, imagining what it would be like in the place I was going to. The water flooded in, as my mouth opened to gasp for air, and my eyes closed, as I lost consciousness.
“Do you think she’s okay?” A voice echoed somewhere above me.
I could feel people on both sides of me, then I heard a voice to the left of me saying, “I don’t know, but please be quiet. All we can do is wait now. The lifeguard did all they could to start her breathing again.”
Lifeguard? Why would I need a lifeguard? And then I remembered the feeling of serenity that had washed over me as I slipped deeper into the water. I must have been drowning.
My eyes flew open and I started coughing violently. There were hands on my shoulders and hands on my back as they pulled me up into a sitting position to get the water out.
“What-what happened?” I choked out.
I barely registered the faces around me as they all parted to display a boy about my age, standing awkwardly away from the group. I lifted a hand to my eyes and shielded them as I tried to focus on him.
“Well…” he started, “You were drowning. I think I was the only one who noticed that you were missing so… I dove in and pulled you out.”
I nodded, “That’s right… I remember thinking that no one knew I was gone, I just didn’t know that was real…” my eyes opened wide and I spun around to face the lake, the water looked so calm and peaceful… “I am never going back in that water.”
“Wait-what?” My little sister, Angie, asked.
“I can’t go back in the water. I mean, I just don’t think I have the strength to do it… I could have died if it hadn’t been for…” I trailed off as I turned to look at the lifeguard who saved me, a strong well-built boy, my age, and not a local, “What is your name, anyway?”
The boy gave me a half-smile, “Toby… and you?”
I stopped, I hadn’t been expecting him to ask my name, but I suppose it is only fair, “I’m Ariana.”
The boy extended a hand and I took it, “It’s nice to meet you, Ariana.” the boy said as we shook hands.
I gave him a small smile, said thank you, and walked away just as he was heading back over to the lifeguard’s chair. I could feel my cheeks burning with a violent red blush. I’m not supposed to be meeting guys this way, I mean, what if I see him again? But then I heard a little voice say, you won’t see him again, remember? He’s not a local. With that little piece of information playing over and over in my mind, I walked back over to him and attempted to start a conversation. Believe me, it is not an easy feat to start a conversation when the boy feels bad about being the one who made you feel embarrassed.
“So, Toby…” I started, “You’re a lifeguard?”
He nodded, “Yeah, I am.”
“Well, that’s cool! How long have you been one?”
“Oh, maybe a year? Yeah, I think that’s right.” He said as he thought about it.
I nodded, “How old do you need to be to become a lifeguard?” I asked without thinking.
Toby sorta smiled, “You have to be 16… why? Are you planning on becoming a lifeguard?”
“I-uh… well no…” I stuttered, “I was just wondering about being a lifeguard… and I guess I also wanted to kind of figure out how old you are.”
Toby grinned, “I kind of figured that was it. You could have just asked, I would have told you.”
I nodded, “I know… I just-I don’t know… I guess I was too scared to ask?”
“Ah, I see. Well, I’m 17. Have been since August. What about you?”
I laughed, “I’m 17 too! But I’ve only been 17 since September… Our birthdays are pretty close aren’t they?”
Toby nodded, “Yeah, that’s what it seems like.”
I glanced around and saw my parents, starting to clean up. I sighed, “It looks like I’m about to leave…”
Toby turned and noticed my parents making their preparations also, “Ah well, at least let me get your phone number!” he exclaims as he pulls his phone out.
I laugh, “Okay. Here, let me do it.” I say as I hold my hand out for his phone.
He nods and hands me his phone. I punch in my cell phone number and then proceed to taking a picture of myself, “Here you go!” I exclaim happily, “Send me a text so that I can have your number as well!”
Toby laughs, “Alright. Will do!”
I start walking away towards my family and just as we are about to leave, I turn around and wave at Toby who appears to have been watching me the whole time. He waves back and then my family leaves. Well, I think, I doubt I’ll ever be seeing him again… but at least we can talk to each other sometimes.
Over the course of the summer, Toby and I keep in touch. By the time late August rolls around, he and I have gotten to know each other really well. I smile sadly as I think about the first day of school that is coming up and how I won’t be able to see my new friend in any of my classes. Just my luck, the good guys are always the ones I can never see.
I sigh and my Mom looks up from her book, “Are you okay, sweetheart?”
I nod, “Yeah, I’m alright. School starts in 2 days. It’s just the fact that school is just around the corner. I’m not prepared for my senior year.”
My Mom nods, “Ah, I see. You’ll be fine. Senior year should be loads easier than your Junior year was. I promise. It usually is.”
I nod and close my eyes, breathing in deep, remembering the feeling I had as I was sinking deeper and deeper into the lake, and then I opened my eyes and breath in really fast. My Mom, startled, looks over at me, “Are you sure you’re okay, hun?”
I nod, “Yeah. I just need to sleep.”
“Alright. Well, just make sure you are able to wake up in the morning! Church is at 9!”
I nod, “I don’t think I’ll have a problem with waking up. I’ll see you tomorrow. Sleep well, Mom! I love you!”
“I love you too!” My Mom responded as she went back to her book.
I climb up the stairs slowly, sadly. I can’t stop thinking about Toby and how he and I have become so close, but we haven’t been able to see each other since the day he saved me. You know, I think there is something about a person saving your life that instantly binds you to them. You think about them nonstop and wonder what would happen if they hadn’t been there. Or maybe that’s just me.
I go to bed feeling sad that I haven’t gotten to see Toby at all and wishing that I could.
The sun pours in through my window and I squint, it’s all too bright. I sigh and look over at my alarm clock, 8:33… 8:33?! Oh my goodness! I hurry and throw the covers off; I only have about 12 minutes to get ready for church. We, my family, always leave at a quarter till.
I hurry and pull a shirt and skirt on, brushing through my hair quickly and putting on a headband. I look myself over once in the mirror, turning my head sideways I decided that I look really good for only having 12 minutes to prepare. I hurry and grab my sandals and purse and head down the hall to where my sister’s room is.
“Hey Angie,” I say as I knock on her door, “You all set to go?”
Angie opens the door partially, “Yeah, I’m almost ready. Just head down, I’ll be right there.”
I nod and spin around, heading for the stairs. As I reach the bottom I remember something and rush back upstairs. I forgot my bracelet that I have worn every day since I almost drowned. It was one of those things that continue to tie me to that day, and by extension, to tie me to Toby. It seems like every little thing I think or do connects me to Toby. I wish we could have hung out over the summer, but he always avoided my questions about what he was doing, so we just talked about our likes and dislikes and other things that new friends try and learn about each other.
My phone buzzes as I’m waiting downstairs for Angie, I pull it out and unlock it to find a message from Toby. I grin, he’s always texting me silly things, this time I was surprised at what I read, “Hey Ariana, what school do you go to?”
Why would he want to know what school I go to? Ah well, I might as well tell him, so I start typing up a message, “McDermott High School. Why?” after I hit the send button, Angie walks into the kitchen and I glance at the time.
I breathe a sigh of relief, “Oh good. We won’t be late today.” I grin at her as she walks past me and towards the front door. I follow her quickly and quietly, she seems a little out of it, but maybe that’s just because school is tomorrow.
I close and lock the door behind us as we leave the house. Unlocking the car doors, Angie climbs into my car and buckles in. I smile at her and turn on a CD that Angie got at an efy camp she went to over the summer. I check my phone once more before starting the drive to the church building, I’m surprised that Toby hasn’t texted back; he’s usually pretty quick about responding. Sighing I place my phone in the cup holder and start the drive to church. On the way to church Angie and I pass each light while it’s still green, it was amazing! Turning into the church parking lot, I find a perfect parking space and pull in smoothly and cleanly with no need to adjust.
Today is going to be a good day, I would say. However, the only thing that might mess it up for me is the fact that Toby texted me but hasn’t responded back yet. I guess he doesn’t have to reply, he didn’t necessarily start a conversation. I just would really like to hear from him.
Angie grabs my arm and pulls me towards the church, “We need to go in and sit down before Mom and dad worry even more about us!”
I nod. “Alright. Let’s go.” And Angie and I walk towards the doors that lead to 3 hours of wonderful gospel learning.
That evening my parents, Angie, and I are all sitting around the living room, reading books or just kinda dozing off, when Angie looks at the time and sighs loudly. My dad looks up at her and cocks an eyebrow up, questioningly. I look towards Angie, throwing her a questioning glance. My Mom, however, stops reading her book and checks the time.
“Well, Angie… It appears to be half past 9. I expect you in bed by 10. You too, Ariana.” My Mom says as she looks at both of us from across the room, “I need you two to be able to wake up tomorrow for school. Seminary doesn’t start until Thursday.”
I nod, “Sure thing, Mom. I’ll go to bed right now. I love you guys!” I say as I head up the stairs.
There is a resounding “love you too” from my parents and Angie as I leave that I can’t help but smile. They are the best people I could ask for in a family. I get to my room and quickly change into my pajamas, settling into my bed, I pick up my phone and check to see if I’ve gotten any texts or calls since the last time I checked. I sigh, Toby still hasn’t texted me back. I mean, I’m sure he has a reason for not texting me; I just would have appreciated a warning. I snuggle down in my covers and turn over onto my side, drifting off into dreamland easily as I close my eyes.
As my alarm blares out the newest Plain White T’s CD and I sit up straight in bed, glancing around my dark bedroom I sigh. Well, it’s the first day of school; let’s make the best of it. Pulling my covers off and climbing out of bed goes quickly and then I proceed to straighten and put my bed back together. Once my bed is made I grab my phone off of the charger, checking it quickly to see if there are any new messages, there aren’t. I shove my phone in my pocket and then hurry to gather up all of my school supplies. I make my way out of my bedroom and do one last quick glance around the room to make sure I didn’t forget anything. This year will probably be better than I think it will be, just got to stay positive. As I rush down the stairs to the kitchen I see my Mom preparing getting Angie’s lunch ready.
“Hey Mom.” I say as I walk through the kitchen to the family room.
“Good morning, Ariana!” my Mom exclaims, happily.
After placing my stuff down by a chair in the family room, I walk over to the pantry, as I look for something to eat I realize I’m not hungry. I sigh and close the door, grabbing a powerade from the fridge and take it back over to my back pack. My Mom starts hurrying to gather her cross guarding stuff and get Angie ready for school. I settle down into the chair and start messing with my phone. I’m worried because Toby hasn’t texted me yet and I was almost positive that he would at least wish me a wonderful first day of my senior year.
I curl up in the chair and doze off for about half an hour. When I wake up it’s just about time for me to leave for school. I sigh and gather all of my stuff up, heading out to the front of the house where my car is parked. I climb in and drive the 2 minutes it takes to get to my high school. Sitting in the car for a couple of minutes I check my phone again, nothing. Shoving my phone into my purse I decide to ignore it throughout the day unless I can feel or hear it vibrate.
I climb out of my car and head towards the school, grinning at my friends that I haven’t seen since May, waving to those that I have. Walking through the entrance to the school gives me a burst of energy; I can smell the clean school smell. I grin; this should be a good day. Then my phone vibrates, I hurry and pull it out to find a text from my Mom.
“Hey darling! I hope today is great! I noticed that you weren’t too happy this morning so I just want you to make the best of today! No matter what happens! 🙂 Love you!”
I smile; my Mom always knows how to make me feel better. Always. I hurry and type a quick response back, “Thank you, Mom. I love you so much! This text definitely brightened my day! I hope you have a great day as well!” hitting the send button, I smile and place my phone back into my purse; my day suddenly a whole lot brighter than before.
Hurrying to my first class, I fail to realize someone is calling my name so I just continue down the crowded hallway, oblivious to everything. Just as I reach my classroom someone runs into me and I drop my bag, I crouch down to pick it up and they just continue walking.
“JERK!” I whisper under my breath and then hurry into my classroom right as the warning bell is ringing.
School has turned out to be a lot easier and more laid back than I thought it would be, I’m already in my 4th period and I haven’t really felt stressed at all. I have friends in all of my classes (so far) and I don’t have an 8th period. I grin at the thought, after this class I’m free. Oh yeah, I live in Texas and go to a school where we only have 5 class periods each day. The first day, “A” days, we have 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 8th; the second day, “B” days, we have 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th. The days switch off like, A B A B.
Once 4th period ends I walk to the front of the school and decide to just sit out there working on homework until 8th period ends. I set all of my stuff down and then I climb up on one of the stone walls in front of my school that I see people sit on all the time. I sigh contentedly; this has been a great day. I start digging through my bag searching for homework and then I realize that I don’t have any, I pull out a book instead and start reading. Immersed in the make believe world of Camelot, I soak up the warm Texas sun, and wait for my other friends to get out of school.
As the end of 8th period approaches, I climb off of the wall and sit on the ground with my head against the bricks. Closing my eyes, I drift off for a while, just enjoying being a senior and having no worries at the time being. I wake up about 2 minutes before the bell to let 8th period out rings and I stand up. As I start gathering my stuff I smile, soon I will see some of my friends and I’ll be able to talk to them. Pulling my bag onto my shoulder, the bell rings and I slip back into the school.
Searching for any familiar faces I wave at people I know, but don’t really talk to. Then I see them, Blake and Jennsen walking towards me.
“Hey!” I exclaim giving Jennsen and Blake hugs, “How are you guys?!”
“Ariana!” Jennsen exclaims as she sees me, “I’m great! What about you?”
I smile, “I’m fantastic!” and then I turn to Blake, “What about you?”
Blake grins, “Oh, you know, the usual. I’m amazing!”
I nod, “that’s great!”
Jennsen checks her phone and almost freaks out, “Blake, we got to go!” turning to me Jennsen looks apologetic, “I’m so sorry! We can’t stay and talk, we have an appointment with our parents.”
I nod, “It’s fine! No worries, I’ll see y’all later, alright?”
“Bye!” I call out as Jennsen and Blake walk away.
I stand inside the school for a little while longer and then head out the front doors. I smile at everyone I see that stares and then I start making my way to the parking lot. Heading straight for my car I get the feeling that someone is following me, but I ignore it because it’s the school parking lot, everyone parks here.
As I reach my car, which is in a parking spot that I pulled straight into, I unlock it and place my school bag in the trunk, making sure that I don’t leave the book I’m reading in it. I walk over to the front of my car and open the driver’s side door. I place the book on the passenger side seat and place the key into the ignition, just as I’m climbing into my car I hear something nearby. I pause as I’m climbing in, curious as to what it is.
That’s when I realize that I actually was being followed; I wait for whoever it was to say something, when they don’t, I sigh and say, “What do you want?”
“You.” The voice says, and I recognize it, but it couldn’t be… could it?
I whirl around and my breath catches when I see who it is, I can’t believe it.
He smiles and nods, “Yeah. I’m sorry for not responding to your text, but that was the only way I could stop myself from telling you about the surprise. I was afraid that if I texted you back I’d spill everything.”
I rush towards him and wrap my arms around his waist, holding him close, “It’s okay. You’re here!”
“Yes, I’m here” Toby said as he hugged me back, “I’m here.”
Fare thee well!!