And through that barrier that had almost taken my life so many years ago, I found my heart still beating. Its inconsistent rhythm a faint memory to me, but enough to take my hand and pull me through the barrier that was holding me back. And I found my ears, and I found my nose, and I found my voice. And I shrieked as I leaped through the last of the hurdles to find my breath. And I took in deep breaths while my heart worked to even out its patterns. Then I opened my eyes.
And there was the face of an angel. His hair and face wet with water, leaning over me. I leaned up to cough out the last of the water that was in my lungs, then tried to center my voice.
"Ben?" My throat burned and scratched. The word sounded like, well, nothing. More like a jumbled mess of letters. I coughed again and more salt water spewed out of my mouth. I tried again. "Ben, what happened?" As the thought occurred to me I found myself eager for an answer. Ben looked around the room but did not answer my question. I dropped the question and moved on. "Ben, where am I?" I realized that the pool was gone and we were in what looked like an office. And then he smiled and made eye contact with me. His eyes were an even brighter shade of green today. i had missed those eyes for the past couple of day. He took his arm out from under my back and I replaced them with my arms. I was able to support myself, that was a good sign.
"You're in Mr. Galls office," he replied looking at me with sarcastic eyes. I looked around. There was a wooden desk in front of a matching chair with filing cases all around it. It was a small room, but assumed large enough for a custodian. Windows surrounded the small office and I saw a door open in the back where the windows ended. "He's getting some towels," Ben told me, noticing where my eyes were looking.
Then I said, "So this is the office," and Ben burst out in laughter. It was the first time I had really seen him laugh. It was even more beautiful then his melodic voice.
Then the door shut on the wall and out came the custodian holding a couple of towels. He handed one to me and I wiped off my face and hair. The towel was soaking from just that. Mr. Galls was wiping off the floor where I assumed we had entered from the trail of water. I watched the older man who was muttering to himself. "Don't you need a towel?" I asked Ben as I looked at his beautiful face again. He looked nervous, in a way.
"No I, uh, need to stay hydrated." I could tell a confused expression was plastered on my face, but I couldn't help it. So many unanswered questions. So I returned to Mr. Galls who was finishing placing the heavy towels on the carpet.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Galls, sir. I thought you said take a right when you reach the wall." I put on the most innocent face I could manage. He looked back at me and mumbled something to low for me to hear. I frowned. Then I wondered, "Why is there a pool in the middle school? I thought only the high school had one?" Mr. Galls replied this time and spun around to face me.
"It used to belong to the school. It's not used anymore." And with that he jumped back down to the floor, bending with ease. Again I was puzzled by his hidden youth, but supressed my wonders.
"But why wouldn't drain it if it wasn't in use?" Ben answered me this time.
"They felt that it could be used in the future. So they kept it full." This answer wouldn't work for me, so I pried further.
"But it was salty. And freezing! Kids can't swim in those conditions." I stated matter- of -factly. Neither answered me for a minute, then Mr. Galls looked at Ben and nodded. I glanced back and forth at them, trying to make sense of their silent conversation.
"Is it really any of your business?" The custodian snapped with his hands on his hips. His amber eyes burned with annoyance. I just stared right back at him. Then he finally cracked and said, "It is used for the marine biology class and they need the water salty. Plus, the water needs to be that cold so the organisms and such can survive. You know, crabs and sharks and such," he added with a sly grin. Trying to scare me obviously, but I kept a straight face and glared into his bright eyes. Why was he dodging all of my answers with cheap lies. What was the big secret I wasn't allowed to know?