Jeneva swam underneath the low dive hanging on with one hand. She pulled herself up plopping on the deck beside the diving board. I swam to her staying in the water.
“You sure about this? Isn’t this a little deep? Want to swim towards the middle?”
She pushed her hair behind her ears, adjusted her goggles and shrugged her shoulders. “They’re in the middle. If they see it, they’ll stop it.”
I darted my eyes over to the lifeguard stands. There was one on each side of the pool at the halfway mark. Two lifeguards were at the same stand. The girl sat on the stand while the guy stood beside her grinning and giggling and I supposed trying to think of a way to get her number or email.
The pool was still and quiet. I could hear chatter and ringing phones from the admissions desk. We were the only swimmers in the pool. Sunlight bled from the skylights through the tinted windows.
I wasn’t sure the lifeguards were even aware we were in the pool. They weren’t watching us.
I heard Jeneva breath, then a splash and gurgle. She held her arms and legs tight and straight descending to the bottom. I didn’t know anyone else that could do a breath-hold dive like she could. I’d heard of swimmers who could do it in longer deeper dives. She could do it while swimming laps, she could do it just swimming underwater. I swished water in my goggles clearing off the fog and slapped them back into position. I stuck my head underwater.
She was motionless sitting with her arms by her side and her legs crossed. It was difficult to keep limbs together and to sit still in the pool without moving without floating without breathing.
I kept my head underwater for about a minute and came up for air. I peeked at the lifeguard stand. It was empty. I was about to go under again when one of them the girl maybe shouted at me her voice coming from the direction of the low dive.
“Hey. Your friend. What’s she doing down there? Is she okay? Is she conscious?”
Her co-worker muttered “We should just go in after her. This one won’t know what’s wrong unless she swims down there too and we don’t need them both catatonic.”
“It’s okay. She does this breath-hold all the time. She’s never had a shallow water blackout except once I think and that was a long time ago.”
They looked at me eyebrows raised. One ran for the orange floatation device, the other a life jacket. They jumped. Waves covered my head in a huge splash. As they got ready to dive, Jeneva’s head cracked the surface.
She rose up staring at the lifeguards. “Lifeguard training class? C’mon Kris. You ready to give it a try?”
L.B. Sedlacek has had poetry and fiction appear in different journals and zines. Her first short story collection came out on Leap Day 2020 entitled Four Thieves of Vinegar published by Alien Buddha Press. Her latest poetry books are The Poet Next Door (Cyberwit), The Adventures of Stick People on Cars (Alien Buddha Press), The Architect of French Fries (Presa Press) and Words and Bones (Finishing Line Press). She is a former Poetry Editor for ESC! Magazine and co-hosted the podcast “Coffee House to Go.” LB also enjoys swimming, reading, and playing ukulele. She recommends the Caldwell Humane Society.