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In the Past
I swam frantically under the water until I needed to resurface gasping for breath. “Marco!” my friend screamed, dangerously close.
“Polo,” everyone else chorused from around the pool, including me. I ducked under and swam away from Caroline once more with my arms thrashing wildly. I was totally thinking I was safe when I calmly popped above the water, but before I could even open my eyes, Caroline came slamming into me.
“Gotcha.” she hissed.
Crap! How in the world did she manage that? I thought. “About time you caught someone!” I said playfully. I swam over to the steps and turned away from my friends. I cramped my eyes shut and started to counting before I had to go and find someone in this childish game of Marco-Polo. “20…19…18…17…”
My mind wandered, and my thoughts strayed to my growling stomach. Good thing lunch should be ready soon! But suddenly my eyes flew open and I jumped out of the pool and raced towards the grill.
“Grace!” Josh’s voice came from behind me. “Where do you think you’re going? I hope your eyes are still closed… at least.” This was followed by a chuckle from all my other friends at my pool party.
“The hamburgers, you guys. How come you let me forget them?” I lifted the lid hopefully, but my hopes plummeted when I saw 15 black shriveled balls sitting on the grill.
The flames lapped around them as they slowly turned to charcoal. My friends crowded around me and looked silently at our ruined lunch.
“Oh, good!” Oscar piped up. “I was worried that I would actually have to eat your horrible cooking. At least there is nothing to worry about now!” Kylie laughed and playfully slapped his shoulder. Everyone else cracked smiles, but I could see that they were disappointed about the ruined lunch.
I put my head in my hands and moaned inwardly. Steven, my boyfriend, stepped up beside me and comfortingly rubbed the small of my back with his thumb. I shivered, because it tickled in a way, but I looked up into his chocolate brown eyes and murmured my thanks for his comfort.
After about two minutes of painful silence, the back door opened and everyone glanced over. My daddy popped out and in his hands were five pizza boxes. Five large pizza boxes. My stomach growled at just the sight of the tan-brown cardboard boxes.. “Surprise!!” he said cheerily. “I somehow knew you weren’t going to be a very good cook. You should have let me do it like I insisted.” He said teasingly.
Yeah… I should have. I thought regretfully.
“Anyways, I ordered some pizza. They just arrived.” Everyone cheered loudly. Very loudly. I was really starting to feel bad for the ruined barbeque food, but at the same time I felt grateful for my daddy. He always knew what was best. Daddy set the food on the table and said: “Now wait up youngsters, you can’t just have plain pizza. Let me get some other food to go with it.”
I wondered what else he had as he trailed into the house. When he came back out, he had a large Chinese Cole-slaw salad and a platter of a variety of fresh fruits. I set the sodas that I had bought earlier on the table and we all dug in. My daddy invited himself to eat lunch with us. I started to protest, but I knew that would be absolutely rude of me, seeing that he had just saved my party. Steven and I sat in the corner of the yard in a sun-tanning chair together.
We ate in silence, mostly because I was still feeling pretty guilty about the ruined hamburger.
Steven: “Grace… you don’t need to worry about the ruined food.”
Me: “I just feel guilty. I feel like everything is disappointed about my stupid mistake.”
Steven: “Just don’t worry about it!”
Me: “You know I can’t forget about it; it is going to bother me all day!”
Steven: “Don’t let it bother you. I am perfectly fine with pizza. If fact, you know how much I love pizza… and you”
He said that last line with a wink, and my heart fluttered around unsteadily inside my body. We had only been going out for about 3 weeks, and I was crazy about him. We were with each other almost every day. I was strangely calm with him, and I tried to act my nicest, not wanting our relationship to end. Lately I had been feeling stressed between school, homework, and still trying to keep my socialism up. He was the one who had helped me through these last few weeks.
At that moment, he wrapped his arms around me and rubbed my back again. I leaned against him and rested my head on his shoulder. “You’re right. I was acting childish. Everyone likes pizza.” And there it was. I felt better just talking to him.
When everyone finished the lunch, they slowly drifted around the yard. Some went and lied in the grass on their towels, while others sat on lawn chairs and sun tanning chairs. A couple of my friends however, stayed and talked with my daddy. He glanced over at me proudly and I winked. I loved my daddy; he got along well with everyone, and was never rude. Plus, he thought of everything that would comfort me. Hence, the pizzas.
Once everyone was settled down, I told Steven that I was going to go inside to use the bathroom. When I was inside, I got my hidden bucket full of water balloons, and I hauled it to just inside the door.
I took three in my hands and quietly stepped out onto the patio. No one paid any attention to me because they were all lounging drowsily at their own comfort. I noticed that Steven had drifted to the table where my dad was, and he didn’t notice me. I thought this was good, because he wouldn’t be keeping an eye out for me.
I took one bulging balloon into my right hand, took aim at Caroline, and threw it hard. It hit her smack in the back, making her cry out. When she looked and saw it was me, she ran over to me. Before I knew it, I had been robbed at one of my balloons. She hocked it at me, and the water dripped down my legs.
By now, everyone had noticed, and they were moving themselves protectively. “Come for a water balloon fight!” I squealed. “They are over here!” I grabbed the bucket from inside, and everyone came running over. Adrenaline ran through me, and I grabbed my share of balloons. Once everyone had their balloons, we spread out around the yard into safe places. I had Logan in my view, so I took aim of him.
“Ready… aim…FIRE!!” I yelled, and threw it at him. At that moment, someone threw one at me. It hit me on the back of my head, and it jerked forward painfully. I could feel the cold water slowly drip through my already damp hair. It had already moved its way down my back before I got over the shock. I whipped around, and I saw Steven quickly dodging away. He was obviously trying to get away before I pegged him with my monster aiming skills. I sat there stunned as I watched as chaos break out. I mean, I had never seen such a crazy water balloon fight. There was no safe place to be. Everywhere you were exposed.
I saw Steven and I chased after him with a particularly large balloon in my hand. “ Here I come!” I screeched. He ran, and dove into the pool. He dove straight down. But when he was at the bottom, his body went limp, and at that moment, I knew something was wrong. I knew that he had hit headfirst into the bottom of the pool.
“Help!!” I yelled before I could even register that I was talking. “Steven. Something has happened to him!” The chaos stopped, and everyone ran over to the pool.
“Someone call 9-1-1.” Josh said, and my dad went running inside.
“I must get him!” I said, preparing myself for a dive.
“No! You mustn’t. It is dangerous for both of you.”
“I can’t just stand here helpless.” I said, already feeling helpless. And before I knew it, I dove. I swam and swam, until I could sense the bottom near. I collided into Steven, and I frantically grabbed him around the waist. I kicked up towards the surface. I had Steven’s weight working against me. I kicked and kicked, feeling my legs burn at the exertion. My breath had long since ran out, and I was starting to get anxious. My lungs we bursting, and I felt like I was about to explode and flood with water. After an eternity, I felt the warm surface water, and my head broke above the top water.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and I struggled towards the edge. Oscar and Austin bent down and gently pulled Steven out of the water. I climbed out after him. My mind raced as I looked and the unconscious form. My heart squeezed tight, and I started silently weeping. Ashley had already bent down and started compressions on him, and water spilled out of his mouth.
Sirens sounded from the distance, and Kylie ran out into the front yard to signal them to our house. A few moments later, they came rushing in with a stretcher. Without speaking, the team lifted Steven and carried him to the back of the ambulance. I told them I would like to ride with them, and the rest of my friends hopped into the back of my dad’s work van. I sat in the back with the paramedics.
While the vehicle sped along a long snake of roads, I sat and held Steven’s wet hand. (He was still dripping from his dive.) The machines did CPR on him while I held my breath, full of hope.
“There is no heart rate.” One paramedic said, obviously trying to keep calm.
“We should shock/boost the heart. Maybe that would help.” Another said. There was so much beeping around that I felt my head pound. The monitor was beeping the loudest because there was no heartbeat. The rushing workers hooked up to chords, and I crossed my fingers and gave Steven’s hand a tight squeeze.
“3…2…1…” One worker said quickly, and his body jumped in my hands. I looked over at the monitor, and I almost screamed with joy when I saw that he had a heart beat going. However, the beat was unsteady, and it faltered often.
“We need to keep his heart going!!” A lady worker with a kind face said urgently. They hooked him up to different machines. All of a sudden, Steven’s eyes fluttered, and they opened weakly. My heart pounded with hope and joy. He squeezed my hand with all his strength, even though there wasn’t much left. And then, his mouth opened, and he said a few feeble words.
“Grace… you know I always loved you, but--” he started.
“Steven! You mustn’t sound doubtful like that!” At that moment his heart faltered and I panicked.
“No, listen. I have few words left. I know my heart can’t go much longer, I just know. I love you, Grace. Please, never forget me.” He closed his eyes peacefully. Oh no! Oh no! I never should have chased him with that water balloon. This is all my fault.
“I love you too!” I said urgently. And at that moment, his heart stopped beating, and the monitor wailed, just as my heart did. I lay my head down on his chest, and cried.
Fifteen years have passed since Steven died. I have survived because of those last words he spoke on my death bed. Even though he is not here anymore, he had given me the will to live every day. I have grown up from my teen years, and I have gotten married and have had kids. However, I still will always remember and respect Steven. I loved him, and I still do.
With much love, Grace.