#reverb 13: jump
Today's prompt was a freewrite on the word jump. When I started writing this story is what came out and though it isn't specifically related to 2013 I wanted to share it.
The summer heat in the South is impossible, even at night. My shirt is soaked through with sweat and the back of my neck is hot with sunburn from earlier in the day. I dangle my legs off the dock. It's the summer before I go to college and I'm spending it in the Alabama woods as a camp counselor.
The door to the staff lounge slams. I turn my head and watch him walk down the stairs. We've been on grounds for less than 36 hours, which is how long we've known each other. He is a shadow against the lights lining the cabin porches, none of his features discernable.
"Hi, " he says when he sees me.
"It's beautiful out here." He takes off his shoes, and places them beside my white Keds, that by the end of the summer will be caked with mud and secrets. I suddenly feel very out of place.
The moon is a sliver of light against the lake, the air stagnant and hot.
He sits beside me. His shoulder touches mine and I exhale a breath I didn't realize I was holding.
He launches into a story about his grandfather teaching him dominoes, but none of the others want to play and he got bored with their complaining. "They'll never make it through the summer."
"I don't know that I will," I confess.
"You will. You know why?"
"Why?" I ask.
"You've got me," he says, turning away at the sound of voices.
I smile in the darkness, listening to my feet in the water, the voices of the other counselors as they make their way to the dock.
"Let's go in," he says.
"To the water?"
I still have my bathing suit on from lifeguard training, but I am uncomfortable in my brand new one piece, the way my breasts aren't fully covered, the way it dips low in the back. It is standard for lifeguards, but I'm tall, awkward and have never liked the way men look at me in a bathing suit. In a few weeks it will not matter. I will swim naked in the lake and howl at the moon, laughing. I will almost choke on lake water. I will ignore the minnows I feel swim around my feet and the way the clay feels underneath as though I could sink forever. I will become comfortable around him and one night on this same dock, he will know the darkest secret I have. Near the end of summer, he will punch one of the guys from the other camp in my defense and the guy will let him. Neither of us know that all of these moments are coming. We are young and in the middle of the woods with more freedom than we've ever had in our lives.
"Yes, we're going swimming," he says, matter of factly.
He stands in one motion and holds out his hand. When I take it, a spark of understanding moves between us, though it will take another conversation for me to understand it and many more years to really appreciate it.
I peel off my clothes as the other counselors walk onto the deck.
The girl from Florida asks, "Aren't you worried about the gators?"
He laughs and our eyes meet.
And before he can move or say anything else, I jump wildly into the dark.