FOUR HOURS LATER, when the sun is at its highest in the sky and all of my bodily fluids have been sweated out of me, I find myself hiking up a mountain behind Serena, while trying not to constantly stare at her toned ass. The trees are scarce up here now, and I still have no idea where it is
that we’re going.
After breakfast, I spent an hour telling Elodie and Serena where in the world we live and about the different ways people go about their days. I still can’t believe that they have no idea how normal people live. What sort of person keeps children hidden away like this?
“We’re here,” says Elodie, interrupting my thoughts. She pulls all of her clothes off until she’s standing in nothing but her faded grey panties.
I look around and see nothing but the valley below us and the sky above us. “What do you mean we’re here? I thought we were going to the lake?” I ask, confused.
Serena smiles and peels her black sundress over her head. I wasn’t expecting her to do that, which is why I don’t avert my eyes. Underneath her black, strappy dress, she is wearing a tiny black crop top and a pair of black panties. She pulls off her shoes and stands stock still, staring at me.
“You’re not going into the water like that are you?” she asks, not answering my questions.
My eyes are travelling all over her body. I can’t believe the way it looks, as if she goes to the gym every single day. It’s not manly muscle but slender, womanly curves and defined muscles that stare back at me. I look down at my clothes and shrug. I pull my jeans and socks off, peeling my t-shirt off
over my head. I leave my boxers on.
“Are you going to tell me where this lake is?” I ask again.
Serena wraps her fingers around my wrist and pulls me across the rocky ground until we’re at the very top of the mountain. I step forward and see a huge body of water below me. I look back at Serena and feel my heart jump into my throat when I see Elodie sprinting past us, launching herself off the side of the mountain. Serena laughs.
“You’re not too scared to jump into a little lake, are you?” she teases.
I shake my head but don’t look at her. I’m too busy watching Elodie plummet through the sky before slicing through the water. I don’t breathe for the entire four seconds that Elodie is under the water, not until her head bobs up and I see her hand waving at us.
“Come on, wimpy boy.”
I turn back around and watch as Serena does exactly the same as Elodie, except instead of just jumping, she dives cleanly through the air. She’s only under the water for two seconds before she bursts back through the surface and grins at me. I don’t know how far the drop is, but it’s more than I’ve ever jumped before.
Still, I can’t stay here so I take four steps back and run as fast as my body will carry me off the edge. The warm air whips across my skin as I drop through the sky. The water is getting closer and closer to my feet. I can’t remember what to do. Do I point my toes? Yes, I must or else I’ll break my
feet. Should my arms be close to my side? I have just enough time to make myself as streamlined as possible before I feel the coolness of water on the tip of my toes.
My whole body plunges into the freezing cold water, stealing my breath away. I kick hard until my head surfaces, and then I pant and cough the breath back in my lungs. The shock of going from boiling hot to freezing cold is too much. My chest aches and my eyes sting.
“There he is,” says Serena, laughing as she swims up to me. “Are you alright?”
I nod and cough. “I think so,” I rasp.
“He’s not like us,” says Elodie with a grin. “He’s not used to it.”
Serena treads water directly in front of me. The water drips off her hair and down her face. I want to touch her and see what her skin feels like in the water. Before I can reach out to her, she kicks out and swims away from me.
I shake my head, sending droplets of water flying out around me. I shouldn’t be thinking about her like that anyway. I keep forgetting that I’m supposed to hate her. I rub my face with my hands and spin around to see where they’re swimming to, but I can’t see anything except water.
“Where are we going?” I ask, trying to keep up with them. I’ve never met anyone else in my life that can swim or run as fast as these two.
“To land,” says Serena. “Keep up, wimpy boy.”
I wish she wouldn’t call me that. She wouldn’t think I was a wimpy boy if she knew all of the horrible shit I’ve done over the years. My parents certainly wouldn’t call me a wimpy boy. I think about my Dad and what he would say if he could see me now. I smile as I think about the look on his face.
MY WATCH TELLS me that we’ve been swimming for over two hours. I think back to my swim sessions at school when I used to be able to swim a mile in an hour. Despite the fact that I’m going faster than ever before, Serena is still miles ahead of me. I can feel my muscles aching, even though I’ve had years of soccer and track training. No wonder Serena has a body like an athlete.
When we finally arrive on land, we walk for ten minutes until we find a pool of water that Serena says we can drink from. I flop down and gulp it as if it’ll run out. When my belly is full and I can’t physically drink any more, I lie down on top of the dry grass, staring at the water that’s sparkling against Serena’s skin. She turns her head, snaps her sizzling green eyes onto me, and smiles. And in that instant, I can’t help but think that she’s slowly starting to melt my cold, hard heart.