Swan Dive

It happened at the pool.

It was winter, the pool had been drained months ago, but he went there daily to skate. It was illegal, of course, but there were no skate parks in the town, and he had to have fun somewhere.

He didn’t notice her to start with. It was only in the middle of catching the most amazing air of his life did he realize he wasn't alone. The result was him, lying flat on his back in the bottom of the empty pool, looking up at her.

She was on the high-dive, dressed in a gray sweatshirt that matched the clouds above her. Below the legs of her jeans, her feet were bare. He could see her toes sticking over the edge of the board. Her hands were fisted, tangled in her shirtsleeves. The wind was blowing her hair in strips and strands across her face.

"Hey," he shouted. "You shouldn't be here."

She didn’t say anything to him. She didn't even seem to notice him, but she was looking down toward him, toward the bottom of the empty pool.

The girl made his skin crawl. There was something wrong with her, something wrong about here. He was there to skate, sure. What was she there for, on the high dive?

"Holy shit," he shouted, before tucking his board under his arm and running as fast as he could toward the small building that housed the campus security.

When he told them what he had seen, he expected to be busted for his own breaking and entering of the pool, but for once the fuzz seemed more concerned about one person's welfare than his own delinquency.

He gave them a few minutes, and then followed them. He wanted to see the girl better, to find out who she was so he could tell everyone he had ever met, and even a few people he didn't know.

The campus cops had been joined by what looked like half of the towns police force. The area around the pool had been blocked off by yellow tape, and they wouldn't let him close enough to see him. But the ambulance had its light off, and no one seemed to be in a big hurry. He though he heard someone utter the words, "She's DOA." into a microphone, but couldn’t be sure.

Later that week he ran into his buddy, and was about to brag about what he had almost seen when his friend said, "Did you hear what happened to Christina?"

"Huh? Who?"

"Christian Applegate. She killed herself. Took a swan dive into the asphalt."

He suddenly ached somewhere deep inside. He had known Christina. She helped him pass geometry.

"Why would she do something like that? She was perfect."

"Yeah, a perfectly flat pavement pizza. Wanna catch some air?"

He declined. For once the though of skating was repulsive to him. He dug out his wallet and pulled out a card. The school shrink had given one to just about everyone saying, "If you need to talk, about anything, come to me, Okay. Dont keep it inside."


There was a number on it, but he didn’t want to call someone. He wanted to talk to a real person. Getting directions from the front desk he went to the counselor’s office.

It was the first time he had ever gone to the school counselor, but the man smiled at him like and old friend, offered him a seat, then sat in a chair across from him, not behind the desk, but somewhere reachable, like they were eating lunch or watching TV together or something.

He didn’t talk to start with, just looked around. There were pictures around of a smiling family. A shelf with some books. A small desk in the corner with a computer on it. The screensaver was currently a haunted house.

“I knew her.” He said, finally. “The girl that killed herself. She was sort of my friend.”

“Sort of?”

“She tutored me. In math. I was having trouble in geometry and she helped me pass the final last year. Kept me from repeating a grade. I never did really thank her. I was just wondering if you could tell me…what I mean is…why would she do something like that. Why would anyone do something like that?”

“Christina had problems, just like everyone does.”

“What kind of problems?”

“I can’t tell you that. It was personal. Between her and me. But sometimes she felt like they were overwhelming her. We can’t really say why a person would kill themselves, but sometimes, when a person thinks their problems are bigger than they are, they feel it’s the only thing they can do.”

They talked for a while. About Christina and about other things. The counselor asked for him to come back. He said he would, and he thought that maybe he really would.

2 comments:

Mickell said...

I'm impressed. You can really write :)

Metro said...

Hullo,

Me again, surfing the words. I second Michael's opinion.

This story seems to begin to lead us to a place where an evil shrink manipulates people into suicide or something equally horrid for the simple joys of doing it.

Just a thought.