The bet was to touch the drain at the bottom of the deep end. The stakes were simple: if you didn’t do it, you were a pussy. The only snag was that some little girl drowned in the pool last week, her red hair tangled up in the drain.
I didn’t know her or anything. Just some kid on vacation with her family. The newspaper ran a photo of her taken at Disneyland the day before—mouse ears and all. Anna Horowitz.
The hotel drained and refilled the pool, but no one went in all week. We’d walk by the fence on our way to the public pool and laugh at the tourists on the sidelines staring at the water like a chlorinated car wreck.
We went at night and scaled the fence.
Rock beat scissors, so I was first. I lingered at the edge.
The water was black and still.
“Water looks different,” I said, dipping a toe.
“Come on, asshole,” my older brother Dan said. His two friends snickered and sipped from paper-bagged beers.
I dove in. My ears popped. I thought of Anna. Did she think this was it? That someone would come for her? Did she feel alone?
I reached the bottom and touched the white plastic cover they put over the drain after the fact. Then I pushed off with my feet. Just as I was about to surface, something drove my head back down. I gasped and caught a mouthful of water.
When I came up coughing, Dan was toweling himself off, his idiot friends snorting.
I climbed out like it was nothing, but as soon as Dan’s head was turned I tackled him back into the pool. We thrashed around a bit. I got him good once on the chin. Then he ended it by ramming my face into a metal rail.
“Motherfucker,” he said, spitting. He got out and left with his friends.
I slumped over the pool’s lip. I took a deep breath. Then I let go.
Lara Prescott's work has appeared in the 2014 Twitter Fiction Festival, The Rumpus, and BuzzFeed Books. Hailing from Western Pennsylvania, she'll always say "pop" wherever life may take her. Follow Lara on Twitter at @laraprescott.