It was hot, unbearably so. Thirteen, stick thin, on the cusp of puberty, standing at the end of the diving board, the pool, a perfect mirror, challenged beckoning her. She’d swum here before, the water a fast-flowing stream partially dammed years before, would be cold. A simple silent step forward and she slid the short space between air and water.
The pool was deep, the murky, dark brown water burned like ice and sucked at her breath. She fought the imperative to breathe in, confused, disoriented, shocked, all sense of direction lost. She kicked and her head rose just above the water, she caught her breath then slid underwater again.
Her chest hurt, she was sinking, motionless, panicked. Again she kicked and once more her head breached the water. Too late, she saw the stone edge inches away. With outstretched arms, her head slipped soundlessly underwater.
The cold was taking hold. Again she kicked reaching out, finally catching the edge of the pool. She held on gasping for air, cold, shocked, frightened, pained.
Panic, having stolen her energy, caused her arms and legs to quiver like jelly. Slowly, painfully, she dragged herself up and over the stone wall of the pool. She sat in the sun trembling with cold.
It was fully five minutes before she could stand up to walk over to her parents.
“Finished already dear? That was quick.”
“Yeah” she replied absently. She spread the towel. The hot sun penetrated deep into her body. She sighed contentedly.