It was mid July and the hottest summer in 5 years. The temperature was reaching record high marks in Oklahoma, and the local bank sign was proudly showing off that fact. It was 118 degrees and humid and it was hot enough to bring any farm worker home for fear of heat stroke.
Each summer I spent my school vacation camped out at my grandparents while my parents worked. My grandparents, who were in their 70’s when I was born, lived in a giant 3 story white house, with cathedral ceilings and three fire places. The bottom story was a walk out basement with an entire wall of 12 foot windows and big French doors that proudly shown the colossal pool, hot tub, and built in sauna. The house itself was on the very tail of a dead-end road and faced out from the woods that encased it. It was to this house, a refuge, that I escaped the battling at home and dove into a distraction.
I swam everyday, for hours. Eventually, my red hair was sun and chlorine bleached blonde, and freckles covered every inch of my arms, legs, and face. My grandmother, who was very petite, not even reaching the 5 foot mark, wore neon sun dresses. She usually sat on the cherry wood deck that branched out over the drop off and towered over the creek that ran behind their house, but on extremely hot days like this one she watched from one of the huge windows like an lioness. She was ready to pounce if their was any signs of struggle.
The sweltering sun spilled over the trees, blistering the pavement below my naked, unprotected feet. I leapt to the next shadow on the concrete that the trees provided from above, making my way to the diving board. I hopped lightly to the last shadow that was provided and made one big bound for the board. Regrettably, that plastic diving board with metal button screws, was scalding my bare feet. I jumped as hard as the diving board would allow, curled my knees to my chest, let out a scream, and dropped 12 feet to the bottom of the ice cold, crystal blue pool.
It was to this pool that I was embraced in my own dreams and imagined a future where I could be an Olympic swimmer. I imagined the crowd that would cheer me on as I just beat some world record. As I jumped from the little diving board, I pictured a “high-drive”, and the cannon ball I was performing was really some death defying quadruple back flip swan dive that had just gotten 10’s across the board.
As I came back to the surface I heard the door close, I rubbed the chlorine from my eyes, which were blood shot, and held up my hand over my eyebrows to shield a shadow from the blinding summer sun. My grandmother clapped and held up both hands to show my score. “Your mother called,” she hollered, “she’ll be leaving work in a few minutes and wants you dry and ready to go home when she -” I dove into the water, cutting off the last bit of words. I didn’t want to go home and I was bound and determined to continue swimming until I was dragged from the water.