“Hey Rox, are you working today?” Duncan, my best friend asked me when we met at the doors of the school.
“Yeah, are you?” I asked. It would be great if he were. I worked three times a week after school as a lifeguard at the community pool. Duncan worked there too, but only twice a week.
“You bet!” The bell rang and it was time to start class. Unfortunately, our classes were completely different this year so we would have to wait until after school to talk further. “See you later.”
I’ll skip the boring details of school and onto the time I started work with Duncan.
I walked out into the pool area, twisting my long brown hair into a messy bun and took up my stance at the side of the pool. Duncan came in not long after, and took his place at my side.
“Hello stranger.” He said, smiling at me.
“Are you talking me strange boy?” I asked jokingly.
“Actually yes. Is that ok?”
I shrugged. “I guess. How was school?” I was not watching Duncan, but all the children giggling and splashing in the water.
“It was school.” He replied, and he was right. School was not the most interesting topic in the realm of conversation.
“Touché. Do you have any plans this --” I was cut off by a sudden scream. My attention had wavered for just a second and something had happened. A little girl had floated into the deeper end of the pool and was floundering out of her depth. I didn’t hesitate. I dove in and I was sure that I would have to swim for a bit to reach the little girl. But when I looked up – after flicking my hair out of my eyes – I saw that the girl was right in front me. I must have misjudged how far I had jumped. I grabbed the girl around the waist and, making sure to keep her head above the water, carried her back to the edge. I hoisted her to Duncan and he made sure she was ok. She was a little shaken, but mostly fine, after coughing up the water that had gotten into her lungs.
Nothing else important until after the pool was closed, and everyone else had left for the day. Sometimes Duncan and I will go for a swim, even though we really aren’t supposed to. We never leave a mess, and no one complains. So anyway, after work this day, we decided to go for a swim to relax after the close call earlier We were both fairly good swimmers and it wasn’t long before we started to play rough. We had been friends for so long that it wasn’t strange for us to act like that. I pushed his head under the water and then he pushed up and shoved me under. He held me under for a long time, until I knew I was on my last reserves of oxygen.
I had no more air, I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t let me up. I only had one option; I took a gulp of water. I expected to feel the water rush into my lungs and I would drown. Instead I found I could breathe. It was the strangest feeling: like I could take the oxygen from the water, the same way that I could filter oxygen from the air, and yet it was different. It felt oddly right, like I was more at home under the water than on land. I had always been more graceful in the water, sure, but now it seemed like I was part fish. I swam farther down, determined to test my new abilities. My ears didn’t pop and I could see quite clearly. I swam up and burst out of the water, with a fountain of water spraying up around me. It felt like the water was pushing me up higher and higher, up above Duncan’s surprised face. I splashed back down and floated in the water beside my friend. I gasped as it took my lungs a minute to get used to breathing air again, but after a moment or two they had adjusted. I smiled cheekily at Duncan.
“What was that?!” Duncan exclaimed. “I was worried because you didn’t come up right away.”
“I don’t know, but it felt right. Like I belonged in the water more than on land. I dunno, maybe I’m part fish or something.” I joked.
He walked me home, like always and I went to find something to eat. My dad walked in from his home office where he managed his roofing business.
“How was school, sweetie? Did anything interesting happen?” He asked as he started to get dinner ready.
“No, school was fine.” I said, thinking about whether or not to tell him about what had happened at the pool. I decided that it would be better if he knew. I was his only child, and my mom had died when I was really young – it wasn’t fair to keep secrets. “But something did happen at work.”
“Oh yeah, what was that?” He asked, stirring things into a big pot on the stove.
“Well, one of the younger girls got stranded in the deep end, but she was ok in the end. But that wasn’t the thing I was talking about. After everyone left, Duncan and I were swimming --”
“So that’s why you were home later than usual.” My dad observed, turning to smile at me, but he must have seen the look on my face and thought better of teasing me. “What’s wrong honey?”
“Well I got dunked under and then I ran out of air so I took a gulp of the water and then I could breathe. Then I shot up out of the water, like the water was pushing me out. It was so cool dad! I mean, it was kind of strange and scary, but it felt right somehow.”
“I knew this would happen one day. Honey, I have something to tell you.” When you were born, your mother and I were told that one day you would discover your power of the Element of Water. You learned to swim before you could walk and then we found out that you could actually breathe underwater, like some kind of fish. We were scared at first, but we did our best and I think you should know all of this.” My dad’s words tumbled out of his mouth.
“So I have the power to control Water? No way! That is so cool!” I exclaimed.