After exams, there was no more need to learn. As such, the students stopped trying and inevitably the teachers stopped trying. The last week before was spent watching movies, having lots of free mods, and more than a fair share of in-class parties.
Our group rarely disbanded. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to name a time when we weren't all in the same room. Lionel and I had made some hush-hush last day of school celebration plans and we tried hard to be really mysterious about them. On monday, we had the girls pack some suitcases and leave them at my house. It was a tad sketchy, but they trusted us enough to comply. Although they weren't happy that we didn't divulge any secrets.
Lionel and I checked with our girlfriend's respective parents and asked for permission to take a trip out to the beach where the two of us had rented a cabin for a few days. We both received affirmatives and warnings to not do anything R-Rated. I'm pretty sure I blushed when Sarina's dad pulled me aside to tell me that. I hope he took that as a good sign.
Anyways, the last week of school chugged by, laden with Senior Pranks, Senior Skip day, Senior trip, and all of the accompanying idiocy. This year they decided to glue wrapped pieces of gum to some of the ledges around school, they staged an all-day cookout in the library courtyard, and they removed all the tables and chairs in the library and replaced them with tents. Lionel and I agreed that we would think of something much better for our own Senior Prank next year. We had already begun to throw around ideas, and needless to say, they showed a lot of promise. I suggested buying a bunch of pudding mix and using it to turn the pool into a giant bowl of chocolatey goodness, but Lionel said it'd be gross to try and eat, and cleaning it up would be time consuming. I reluctantly agreed.
Friday came. The Seniors were able to enjoy their loud Senior Run through all the halls of the middle school and high school, and then the long awaited final bell came. There was whooping, shouting, singing, and...crying. I'm not one hundred percent sure, but I wagered that it was crying over not being able to see a boyfriend or girlfriend everyday and not that school was over.
Still, there's a first time for everything.
"So what do you guys want to do tonight?" asked Claudia.
Lionel and I traded glances sneakily, "I don't know" said Lionel, "Guess we'll just have to go with the flow."
I was the only one that got it, because we were going to the beach. With water... water... flows. Anyways...I just about exploded with laughter. I managed to contain it, but I ended up having a coughing fit and would have keeled over if not for Sarina.
"Are you all right?" She asked.
"Uh...yeah... just um... swallowed a fly."
"Gross!" said Claudia, and we continued to my car.
Lionel took shotgun and the girls filled in the back seats.
It took the girls about ten minutes to realize that we weren't heading home.
"Guys? Where are we going?"
Keeping my eyes on the road I answered, "I'm just taking the scenic route. It's a back road that Lionel told me about."
Sarina looked a little doubtful, "Huh... alright. You sure you know where you're going?"
"Oh, I'm sure." I said with a partially concealed smile.
After twenty more minutes, the peanut gallery piped up once again.
"This is one long back road."
"Listen. There is no backseat driving in this car ok?"
"You're lost aren't you?"
"No! I know where I'm going!"
"Maybe you should ask for direc-"
Lionel came to my rescue, "He knows where he is going Sarina. Trust me."
I had been driving for close to an hour when Lionel nudged me. We were close. It was time to add the final touch.
"Ok. I admit it. We're lost." I said.
"What? Daniel! Why couldn't you have admitted that forty minutes ago when we were closer to home?"
"Because it looked familiar! I though I knew where I was going!"
"Typical." said Claudia with a roll of her eyes.
"Find a house and ask for directions ok?"
"Ok." I answered glumly. I turned down the final street and pulled up in front of our cabin.
"I guess we'll ask here" I said. "You guys want to come with me? Make sure that we get the directions right?"
"Absolutely." Said Claudia and Sarina at the same time. While they shared a laugh, I shared a smirk with Lionel who said,
"I'll stay back with the car. Just in case."
"First sensible thing I've heard all day." muttered Sarina.
I spread my arms, "Hey! What's the big deal? Don't get snippy... I didn't mean to."
She smiled a little, "I know, but it's fun to take advantage of this perfect moment. The ladies were right and the guys were not." The girls high-fived as walked up to the cabin and I knocked on the door.
I tried again.
"Maybe we should try another house?" said Sarina.
"No. Give it a minute."
I knocked a third time.
"Ok. You stand here and knock Daniel. Claudia and I are going to go an try this hou-"
"Wait! Someone's coming!"
The inner door opened, and the screen door pushed out to reveal...
The girls just stared in shock for a moment then looked back at the car.
"Lionel how did you..."
The two of us shared a high-five of our own and shouted,
"HAPPY LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!"
Lionel stepped back and ushered the girls in.
"Guys... this is great and all, but we don't have any-"
Lionel opened a closet to reveal the suitcases they had packed at the beginning of the week.
There was silence.
And then Lionel and I were simultaneously attacked by our girlfriends.
In between kisses I managed to get out, "Someone... owes me... an apology I think."
I received a coy smile in return as Sarina whispered, "Oh, I'm sure... I can find... some way... to make it up to you."
A few days later, I pulled my face away from Sarina's,
"Ok. We'll let you guys unpack and everything. Then we can meet back out here and make some plans alright? There's a bonfire pit in the back, there's a TV, and of course, there's always the beach. Does fifteen minutes sound good?"
Nods all around.
"Ok! Let's get to it!"
The girls scampered off with their bags while Lionel and I remained in the living room. We had already swung by to check out the place and bring all the suitcases down.
"Well played." Said Lionel.
"Thanks! Same to you of course. And this whole thing was mostly your idea."
He waved the compliment away, "Yeah but you were the one that tracked this place down and you managed to keep your cool while under fire Sarina. I'm not sure I could have put up with it. Her sense of sarcasm definitely suits yours." He said with laugh.
I rolled my eyes, "Thanks... I think. Although I think I prefer the sarcasm over your awful puns. Nearly gave the whole thing away right then and there!"
"I was confident in your ability to not ruin everything. I mean, what's the point of all that acting, if you can't even keep a straight face?"
The banter continued until the girls came out. They had long shirts on over their swimsuits and each had a towel thrown over one shoulder.
I looked up. "Ah! There are you are... so it looks like you want to a watch a movie then?"
It didn't take me long to find out that girls are excellent at towel whipping.
We spent the rest of friday swimming, running around on the beach, and a huge sandcastle.
Later that evening, and every evening after that in fact, we went out into the back yard and sat around a fire. We roasted marshmallows, traded stories, and made Lionel sing some more. They tried to force me to do a duet with him, but I refused. I didn't really like to sing, and the music that Lionel knew was unfamiliar to me, and vice versa.
On Monday, our last day at the beach, we tacitly agreed to spend the day as couples. Sarina and I were the first to leave the cabin. We took a walk along the beach, sat in the sun for a while, then went swimming. We played around, splashed each other, wrestled, and then eventually decided to race.
There was a rock about fifty feet out. That was our halfway point. We counted down, then took a running leap into the water. It was pretty even at first, but then I gradually began to pull ahead. I executed an underwater turn on the rock and zoomed back towards shore. I had almost reached it when Sarina screamd.
"Daniel! I'm-... Help.... me!"
Instead of turning around where I was, I made it to shore then took another running leap into the water to start off with more momentum. Sarina was flailing about halfway between the rock and the beach.
She was still managing to keep her head above water when I reached her. I began to tell her to calm down and breath when she latched on to me and took us both under the water. I tried swim down and push her arms off my neck, but she wasn't letting go. Then her arms loosened on their own accord and pulled my face to hers.
We separated when we broke the surface and I found that she was laughing.
"The look on your face was-"
"Which look, the look of utter panic on my face as I thought you were dying? or the look of helplessness on my face when I thought I was dying?"
The emotion of the of the situation was coming to boil inside me. My lifeguard instructor had made it a point to ensure that we never fooled around, and part of that was still inside me as I lost a bit of control.
"That is not something to joke about Sarina! Seriously! That is how people drown."
"Daniel you're a lifeguard. What could have-"
"What could have happened? What could have happened? First of all this isn't a swimming pool Sarina. You can be carried out by a current, or carried under the water by undertow. Secondly, even if this was a pool when you take someone under like that and they are unprepared for it, whether they're a lifeguard or not, it can be harmful. You could injure or suffocate them. That wasn't cute, and it wasn't funny."
Even as I finished, I was wishing that I could have taken what I said back. Not because I wasn't right in being concerned, but so that I could have been gentler about it. The look on Sarina's face didn't leave much to the imagination.
I had lost control and gone too far.
I was suddenly very self-conscious and very embarrassed. Without a word I turned and swam back towards shore. I left my towel and things on the beach and walked right into the house. Our conversation hadn't been very discreet because I received concerned looks from both Lionel and Claudia when I burst inside and slammed the door behind me. I made my way to my room, part of Lionel's words echoing through my head as I did so:
"I also said that you could be difficult. You could lose your cool or snap..."
No kidding. Losing my control was what made me lose Claudia. Now I had gone and screwed things up with Sarina.
I was sitting on the floor in my room when I heard footsteps come through the door. I didn't need to look to know that it was Lionel.
"I did it again."
A slight edge of concern crept into Lionel's voice, "Did what again?"
"Sarina pretended to drown Lionel."
"So? You're a lifeguard. What was the problem with just saving her?"
I spun to face him, "Lionel just because I'm a lifeguard, doesn't mean I don't get afraid when someone starts to drown. Especially when its my girlfriend. All I could think about was 'what if I'm too late?' 'How do I tell her Dad?' 'How do I look myself in the eye again?' Then I get there, and she tackles me in deep water. I can swim, but it doesn't take much to keep a person under water. So then I was afraid for my own life as well as hers. She may have been only playing Lionel, but sometimes that can be all it takes for something bad to happen."
Lionel smiled and turned to look back at the door. Sarina walked in.
"If you'll excuse me." said Lionel, and he left.
"Lionel told you wait out there didn't he?" I asked.
I smiled, "What am I going to do without him."
We sat in silence for a while, then Sarina spoke.
"I'm really sorry Daniel. I didn't know what that would do to you. I just meant it as a joke."
I nodded. "I know... it's just... I've almost drowned a few times. Most of them when I was young. I hate to repeat those experiences. And... with you... I just didn't want to lose you. People think that lifeguard's are more calm cool and collected, but in some cases that couldn't be farther from the truth, because we know what can happen. We guard lives... its our fault when something bad happens."
Her hand closed around mine. "Well I won't do that again... without warning you first." She said with a smile.
And then Sarina apologized for giving me a hard time on Friday. She didn't use too many words though.
The drive home was light-hearted and happy, but there was an undertone of sadness. Now that school was over, Lionel and Claudia would be planning their trip to the Virgin Islands. I wasn't sure how long they would be gone, but any amount of time would be too long for my taste.
We were best friends. We were a group no less bound than the Fellowship of the Ring, or Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca. There was only thing that made us different from them.
We needed a fancy name too.