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The Swimming Hole
The blank page before me seemed to stare back at me like an ever-present evil. I sighed knowing that this wasn't going to be easy, but who said writing about the dead was easy?
I remember the day it happened almost as if it were yesterday. The day had started like every other day in the deep south: hot, sweaty, and disgusting, but I dealt with it because it was Jake's favorite time of the year. It was his sixteenth birthday, and he'd just gotten his driver's license and a brand new truck to go along with it. He was so excited. I'd never seen him so happy before. He couldn't wait to get behind the wheel and take it for a drive, so to make the night even more meaningful, he took me out on a special date.
He arrived at my house around seven o'clock that night and swore to my father that he'd have me home by ten, which happened every time he took me out, before escorting me out to his truck. After climbing inside the large vehicle, I asked Jake where we were going.
He flashed that gorgeous crooked smile of his that made me weak in the knees and said, "You'll see."
My heart pounded the entire way to the mystery location as Jake held my hand in his over the compartment that separated the two of us. I can still smell his cologne, still feel his warmth, still hear the sound of him breathing next to me.
The darkness had settled over our small home town nearly half an hour before our date, so all I could see was what the light that emanated from the headlights of Jake's truck touched. Jake turned the ignition off and looked over at me.
"Can you tell me where we are now?" I asked anxiously, trying my best to see through the blanket of blackness that covered everything.
"Come on," he replied as he opened the door and climbed out of the truck. I didn't protest. Instead, I followed him into the glow of the headlights of his truck.
"Where are we, Jake?" I demanded once more.
"Just relax and listen, Ella," he said. I sighed heavily and closed my eyes, listening to everything around me. I could hear the sound of rushing water somewhere very near, and the scent of fresh grass and soil filled my nostrils with the impact of a crashing wave. They were familiar sounds and smells, smells that Jake knew I loved.
"Please tell me where we are," I said pleadingly.
"How about I show you instead?" Neither of us said anything more as Jake grabbed my hand and began to run. I was startled and opened my eyes immediately to be sure that I didn't fall, but I didn't have to run very far. He took a few bounding strides and stopped moments later and asked, "Remember this place?" We'd stopped at the edge of a cliff that was about twenty feet high. Flowing next to us was a river that spilled out over the edge, creating the most breath-taking waterfall I'd ever seen in all of my fifteen years. The water pooled at the bottom, filling a rather shallow and small swimming area that we had so cleverly named the Swimming Hole when we were six. It was a place where Jake and I spent nearly every day of every summer playing in when we were younger, but as we grew older, we forgot about it and this was Jake's way of bringing some of our most precious memories back to life.
I smiled at our friends who were parked around the water at the bottom as they whistled and shouted and said to Jake, "Yeah, I remember. How could I ever forget? We made some pretty unforgettable memories here."
Jake nodded and fell silent for a moment then said, "Do you want to take a swim?"
"Are you crazy? I didn't bring a bathing suit! Besides, it's dangerous to be jumping off of a cliff at night."
"Don't be ridiculous, Ella. It's perfectly safe. I'll be fine. Nothing's every happened before, so what makes you think something's going to happen now?"
"I don't know, Jake. Maybe it's because every other time we swam here was during the day time." He ignored every word I said and removed his shirt and jeans.
"See you at the bottom," he said with a wicked smile as he began sprinting and jumped as he reached the edge. I ran after him, shouting and cursing, though it did no good. I couldn't stop him.
He hit the water with an enormous splash and our friends grew louder, cheering as the ice-cold water drenched their clothing. I expected Jake to appear at the edge of the frothy, white pool at any moment, but when he didn't, I panicked and ran down the stone path to the left of the waterfall that ended at the Swimming Hole.
By the time I reached the bottom, a few of Jake's friends from our high school football team were dragging him out of the water leaving their clothes completely ruined. The water swirled around as if it were playing with the scarlet red ribbon left behind by Jake's body.
I still remember crying over his lifeless body, screaming his name as I stroked his shaggy, brown hair. I didn't care about the gaping wound in the base of his skull where it had collided with the rocks at the bottom of the Swimming Hole. All that mattered was that I'd never see those sparkling blue eyes or kiss those soft lips ever again.
Now, as I sit in my room with my pen to the paper and reminisce about that day, I wonder if my therapist is completely sane. She says that writing in a journal will help me overcome some of my grief and that, occasionally, writing a letter to Jake will relieve some stress. I never told anyone about what happened that night nor had I ever discussed it with the ones who were, but the longer I think about it the more I know that I need to do it
I gripped my pen so tight that my knuckles turned white, closed my eyes, swallowed hard, and began to write about that summer at the Swimming Hole.