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FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT
Summer Bummer
Always look before you leap.

by Rita Ayers
September 20, 2006

I waited on the ladder for my turn to jump off the high diving board.  There was one kid on every step.  Two boys in red bathing suits were in front of me, and my friend Martha was behind me.

Finally, it was my turn.  It was a rule at our pool that you had to wait for the person in front of you to reach the ladder.  I looked over the side and saw the boy in the red bathing suit reach the ladder.  I ran as fast as my eight-year-old legs could carry me to the end of the board and jumped.  Too late, I saw the other boy in the red bathing suit right below me.  I released my legs from my cannonball position and hit the water inches from his back.  I forgot to close my mouth, still wide open from the stunning realization that I was a missile headed for a red target, and surfaced spewing water and gasping for breath.

The lifeguard, Buddy McCormick, blew his whistle furiously.  I thought Buddy McCormick was the best looking thing I had ever seen.  He motioned me over to the lifeguard's chair and yelled at me so loudly that everybody at the pool stopped swimming and stared at me.  The pavement was burning my feet, but I did not move until he finished hollering and banished me to the corner.  I sat on the concrete without a towel, staring at the chain link fence until my mother came to get me.

Even though I had season tickets, and it was only June, I did not go back to the pool that summer.



About the Author:
Rita Ayers still loves to swim, but doesn't dive so much any more. She's always aware of the folks in the lanes next to her and especially watches out for those in red swimsuits.


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