Fiction Feature – The Jump

A girl stands on the shore of a lake.

“I can think of a million reasons not to do it. Last summer, when my little brother Joshua was nine, he pushed me in because I was taking so long. It was annoying him. My mom was reading her book on the beach, and she kept telling me to just jump in before someone pushed me in. What a dumb thing to say. Obviously Joshua thinks it’s hilarious and does it. Dad made him say sorry, but secretly I think Dad was glad Josh got me in. He didn’t see what the big deal was. But the thing is, it’s a cold lake and there’s weeds at the bottom that slime against your legs. I was happy playing Frisbee in the shallow water. But stupid Josh got hot and decided to go in.

And it’s cold today. We just got back from groceries and mom thinks I’m in the hammock reading Archie’s, but I wanted to come down here and see if I couldn’t just go in myself. I’m not a baby. I probably should have asked first, but I didn’t want anybody here bothering me. Besides I’m a really good swimmer. I raced Lily in her pool yesterday, and I don’t want to brag, but I beat her by a full 30 seconds.

The worst part is getting out. Eventually, I’ll have to get out, and the wind will come up, and the sun will go behind that cloud at just the wrong time, and I’ll freeze.

Fine, I’ll just put my toe in and then decide. Five minutes ago, when I was walking down here, I said to myself I would just dive right in, head first, like that old lady this morning. But I knew I’d do this. She walked out of her back door, towel strung around her neck, and marched on down her dock and dove in. She didn’t hesitant for a moment. And I know it was cold, because when she surfaced, she let out that little yelp we all make when we first feel the touch of cold water, when it hits your lungs. But it didn’t stop her, not her. She left the comfort of her warm bed to get into the freezing cold lake. She just did it. Just jumped, like the no-big-deal that it is.

If I just stand here, the water lapping up against my shins, it’s not so bad. I’m glad Josh isn’t here to see me still standing here.

I’m taking too long. Mom will check on me or she’ll see me standing here and be mad I didn’t tell her where I was.

Why am I standing here? This is so like me. Just to wait here. Just to stand here and wait, undecided, waiting. So what then? I won’t go. I don’t have to. I’ll go back. Oh, just jump in! Swim! It’s just water! I can’t stand here my whole life, squeezing sand between my toes, feel the water getting colder, to talk myself out of not goi-”