Excerpt from book I wrote for Nano Wrimo this past month
Swimming the same deep water as you is hard
The shallow drowned lose less than we
You breathe
The strangest twist upon your lips
And we shall be together...

"The Same Deep Water as You" -- The Cure

Sunshine greeted us that afternoon. Young Kentwood embraced the summer. It seemed like years since the winter parted in favor of the sunny season. Sun rained on her. She appreciated warm weather from the early age of six. The clouds danced with joy, as she stepped foot into her cousins' enormous pool. A faint plop echoed in the still air as she hit water. Just learning to swim, she doggy paddled her way through the shallow end. When she looked up, her cousin Amy, sister Lacey, brother James, and cousin Jennie were sitting on the steps leading into the water. Lacey and Jennie were four, Amy and James were in their terrible twos and wore diapers to prove it.

Strangely, the toddlers weren't wearing any plastic buoy arm bands.  Doggy paddling her way to and fro, Kentwood lavished the summer day. Off in the distance, her mother and aunt gabbed under an umbrella-littered table. The pool was encased by a metal fence and a sign which read, "We don't swim in your toilet, don't pee in our pool." There was a cabana room for both men and women. It was there that Kentwood was dared at the age of seven to "show me yours and I'll show you mine" by her cousin Abraham's friend, Andy. Curious, Kentwood lowered her one-piece swimsuit strap, and then removed the other shoulder strap. Andy gaped at her and suddenly fled the room. Kentwood turned toward the full-length mirror and wondered what made him flee. A sadness spread. From that day, she'd harbor misconceptions about her body which took years to outgrow.

One thing she never understood was cowardice. Kentwood longed to stand up to the boy and tell him he didn't make good on his end of the deal. But she knew if she made a stink about it, her mother would find out and that would be the end of it all. Her cousins' pool was a breeding ground for unpleasant and odd childhood memories. But some were favorable. The time she swam 70 laps in the rain as part of lifeguard training, was one of her most proud accomplishments. Her grandfather would teach her how to dive, and it would change her personal outlook.

But that hot summer day in the pool with her cousins would be one she'd never forget. Lacey was hanging on to the silver stair railing, splashing away, giggling and laughing. Years later, she would become an ace lifeguard at a local YMCA. Even at four, she wasn't scared of the water. At two, her brother James had a full head of thick black hair. He was pudgy and adorable. His laugh was contagious. One of the things Kentwood most loved about James is that he never seemed scared.  As a teen, James would tag along with Kentwood and her boyfriend at a water park. Facing a 17-foot ledge, James dared her to jump off. Not wanting to seem gutless since she was older, she took the plunge. Once was enough. James, however, would spend most of the afternoon diving off the embankment, swimming to shore, and jumping off it again and again. Even at two, he showed no fear. Kentwood was splashing away deep in thought, when she heard a loud thud. She turned toward the stair railing and noticed James was missing. There, down in the water, near the ledge, was a diaper soaked James – he was submerged and his head was face down in the chlorine filled water.

She screamed, and grabbed him as fast as she could. Her sister and cousins screamed too. Her mother and aunt rose from their seats but didn't beat Uncle Martin. He heard the screams from inside the house and literally flew down the stairs like a bat out of hell and grabbed James from Kentwood's feeble arms. He cradled him and he choked slightly, water hadn't pierced his lungs. The diaper saved him from sinking to the bottom of the pool and it arrested gravity.

Uncle Martin yelled at his wife and Kentwood's mother, "Where the hell were you?" The women were noticeably shaken and riddled with guilt. The ride home in the car that night was dismal. Kentwood said a silent prayer to God thanking him for James' life. She realized her role as an older sister was to be taken seriously, and that it would be a lifetime of responsibility. Perhaps she'd even have to save her brother again. At least now she had practice. She wondered how her father would take the news. Could she really protect James all the time? Was she up to it? Barring unforeseen accidents, there was a hell of a lot to shield him from. She would always swim in the same deep waters as her siblings, bonded to them in a way she'd never be to another human being. And the shitstorm was just about to begin.

baraness   baraness wrote
on 12/8/2008 12:17:34 PM
Thank you guys!

StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 12/8/2008 12:00:04 AM
Great job here. I liked how you held my attention till the end. Wondering if this is just the first part of a longer story, for I want to see more.

Novel / Novella
writing baraness
Non-fiction writer with a penchant for story-telling.
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