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One Last Chance
“Come on!” I begged. “Please, mom, I’m twelve years old! I know how to swim.” When she didn’t seem convinced, I tried another tactic. Logic. “Mom, I’m on the swim team for God’s sake!”
“No,” my mother replied curtly, still unfazed by my common sense. “There’s no one out there, and you know you have problems with your heart.” I flinched.
“What does my heart have to do with any of this?”
Since I’ve been born, I’ve had heart murmur. Rather odd, because it wasn’t that severe. The doctors had no idea why that affected my breathing; well, that’s what they told me. I had to walk around with a heart monitor stuck to my chest for a full day, and that’s the result I get? Please. So much for praying and Guardian Angels. Sometimes I lost my faith completely.
“Everything. You might stop breathing, or worse.”
“Ugh, you are so paranoid!” I screeched. I slammed the door in her face and threw myself onto the hotel bed. This was the only vacation we had all summer, and she won’t even let me go to the pool! Her excuse always is ‘you have four little siblings’ or ‘I can’t pay for this.’ I snorted. Yeah, she never could pay for anything, besides my Catholic school or my three-story house.
The sight of my bathing suit lying on the nightstand stopped my train of thought. A devilish curl turned my lips upward as I calculated the chances of me sneaking out. It wasn’t far. All I had to do was run past her room and out the door. But what would happen if I got caught? Easy. ‘But, mom, really. There was someone here before! And you said that I could go out if there was someone there! Ask Regene! She saw him, right?’ Well, she didn’t really say that. But hey, she’s forty with five kids—very forgetful.
I snatched my one-piece suit and ran into the bathroom. Throw on casual clothing, and you wouldn’t suspect a thing. Besides, what would you expect from an innocent, responsible twelve-year old girl? To jump into a pool without permission? Oh, that is such a sin. I don’t see that written in the Ten Commandments.
I carefully left the room, trying to make as little sound as possible. Now where was my friend’s room again? I looked for her door as I swept by. Room 301…. room 303…room 305… Ha! Here we are. Room 307. I rapped the door softly, but urgently.
Regene opened the door with a puzzled expression on her face, since I was already holding my finger to my lips. She cocked her head to the side. I lifted my shirt, internally laughing at her shocked expression. Then she caught sight of my bathing suit, and a knowing expression ran across her face. I felt the corners of my lips turn upward as she nodded and ran into her room.
She returned in about two minutes, and we took off. Giggling and laughing, we threw the door open and jumped straight into the pool without care. My mom was right. No one was to be seen. I stripped my damp clothes and kept the bathing suit.
“How come your mom didn’t let you this time?” Regene asked.
I waved my hand at nothing. “Oh you know her. Such a loser.” I rolled my eyes.
She laughed and we continued to swim in the freezing water. I didn’t mind, though. It’s been so long since I’ve been in a pool! I loved the sensation of water, the feeling you get. I suddenly had an idea.
“Hey can you dive?” I tilted my head.
Regene pondered that for a moment, and then shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
I beamed. “I’ll teach you.”
We climbed out of the pool and onto the deck. The summer sun was burning my feet, so I ran to the deep end as fast as I could without tripping. Regene caught up soon, her dark hair sticking to her forehead. My own black hair was beginning to curl, but it didn’t matter. I jumped into the pool without signal.
Okay, I lied. Well, not exactly. I wasn’t really the best swimming or diver in the world, especially in the deep end. But I could totally handle this.
Regene gave me a wary look as I held onto the wall and pointed to the center. “Aim for there,” I instructed.
She hesitated, and then leapt in. There was a splash, and half a second later, I was underwater.
At first I knew she was just playing around. Regene was pulling me underwater by my arms, and I had the urge to laugh. My eyes were open, looking at her hair tangled around her face.
But that was before I lost my breath.
I was running out of air, and I had to get to the surface. I reached for the wall, but she had pulled me towards the center. My eyes widened in alarm. No! I mentally shouted, not wanting to lose any more air. She was now pulling me down by the straps of my suit, but I had no time for modesty. I pushed her and even kicked her, but she wouldn’t let go. That was when it hit me. I was going to die.
I felt the sting of tears even though I was still underwater. It didn’t come automatically, but my life eventually flashed before my eyes. I remembered my friends back home, my family who depended on me here and there, my mom who warned me not to swim, and, oh God, my sister. How I loved her so.
I couldn’t bear it any longer; I left out what was left of my breath. No! Don’t let me die, God please, don’t let me die…
And that was when everything turned black.
There was a roaring in my ears, and then a ringing. The ringing became louder and louder. When it became so intense I couldn’t bare it, my eyes shot open. I tried to gasp, but my body wouldn’t let me. Instead I coughed out a large spill of water.
“Oh, honey…” Multiple arms encircled me. Each squeeze hurt like hell, and I groaned in protest. They retreated, and I blinked myself back to reality.
I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by the tear filled faces of my brothers, my mother, and my friends. Looking at them, and suddenly realizing how close I was to never seeing them again, I started to cry. My mother held me. I expected an ‘I told you so!’ but I never got that. I returned the hug eagerly.
And all the while I was thinking about the short prayer I asked of God. A feeling of warmth shot through me. Maybe there is such a thing as Guardian Angels after all…