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Flirting With Death This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Let's go swimming!"

"Uh, maybe later."

This kid never does anything. I don't know why I even came on this stupid trip. I took a week off from work for this? I could be making some serious dough at the ol' Humarock Riverhouse, but no, my parents assured me that I would have a great time with this kid who's supposed to be my "best friend." Just because our parents are friends doesn't mean that we will be too.

"I think I'll go up to the room."

The room? It's the most gorgeous day out and he's going to his hotel room? What a nerd. Well, I'm glad he's gone because there are some hot-looking chicks close by and he's cramping my style. Here they come now walking toward me and ... burnt! Maybe next time. I should probably try to be more cool. Yeah, more cool and maybe they'll at least stop and say "Hi." Oh, well, there is also another couple on this merry trip of ours, the Thackerys. They don't have kids, but Mr. Thackery is pretty cool. Speak of the devil ...

"Let's go swimming."

Yes! Finally something to do! As we picked our way down the steep, rocky path typical of the Maine coast, I thought that maybe this wasn't going to be such a bad day after all. When we reached the shore, I quickly dove into the surf. The ice cold water immediately paralyzed my body.

"Wow, this is really warm!" I grinned sarcastically.

"Yeah, let's head for the outcropping of rock, the place where that guy drowned." We swam toward the rocks and encountered a long rope with buoys. It was almost the length of the beach. Surprisingly, the water was still quite shallow considering how far we had come. I stood on the muddy bottom.

"What's this for?" I asked.

"Probably to tell boats that this is too shallow. C'mon." We neared the rocks and suddenly it became hard to swim. I found myself swimming twice as hard and going nowhere. The current was trying to drag me slowly out to sea. All of a sudden I got scared, but I realized that if I didn't panic I would be OK. I was still making a little progress. I turned my head to check Mr. Thackery and I noticed that he was also having difficulty. Then he said something an adult has rarely if ever said to me in a tone that no adult had ever used: "Help me!" he screamed.

I didn't stop to think. I heard him loud and clear. I grabbed his hand. I pulled him toward safety but in doing so I pushed myself away and farther out to sea. He was still in danger so I gave him another push that this time propelled him to safety, but I was in even deeper trouble. I sank beneath the water. My lungs filled with the same water that I had been playing with earlier, but now it was my enemy. It tossed and tumbled me. I lost all sense of direction. I almost gave up. I realized that I was drowning. Suddenly a strong hand grabbed my arm and pulled me onto the grating rocks. Some vagrant current had actually carried me within Mr. Thackery's reach! I sat there coughing, choking and thanking God and Mr. Thackery. Tacitly, we decided not to swim back to shore. Rather, we followed the outcropping until it reached land. As we trudged back to our hotel, those hot-looking chicks passed and I was honored with a giggle. "Hello, girls," I said with a winning smile. But it really wasn't worth being cool. When you've almost drowned, you don't feel like flirting with girls.

When we got back to the hotel, I dove into the pool to wash off the salt. While I swam around, I started to think about what had happened. I realized what the rope was for: not to keep boats from coming in, but to keep swimmers from going out! I reasoned that perhaps picking up girls wasn't nearly as important as I thought - or as I wanted it to be. Perhaps this brush with mortality had awakened me to maturity. Before, I had been a happy-go-lucky kind of kid who just followed the crowd. Now I realized that there is something a bit more important to life than coolness. I realized that this thought needed more time before I could come to a solid conclusion. As I came out, I saw my "best friend."

"How was your, um, swim?"

"Fine." n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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