An honourable mention in this month’s writing challenge. The challenge was 250 words featuring something to do with water…

Messing about in water

The chlorine stings my eyes. I blink. Shards of sunlight glitter against the chip-tile bottom of the pool. The hem of my faded t-shirt floats upwards, oblivious to the panic and pressure swelling in my chest. White-hot air smoulders and expands behind my pubescent breasts. I can feel my ribs spreading wider and wider, pulling at the seams of my end-of-summer-saggy swimsuit.

The air would push me to the surface if it weren’t for the rigid, uncompromising fingers curled around the neck of my shirt. I wriggle and the fist clenches tighter around the fabric. His knuckles bump against the back of my head. He pushes me down; further from the surface.

A bead of air leaks from my nostril. I tighten the muscles in my neck, trying to create a lock that will keep the air safely in my lungs. My cheeks bag out. Pressurised blood fizzes against the back of my eyes. The light begins to dim and I feel the tickle of bubbles as they trickle out through my mouth, up and across my cheek.

I reach around my neck and peck at the hand.

One. Two. Three.

The hand releases. My feet find the pool bottom and I push up with mouth open; ready to suck in the summer-sweet air.  I break the water’s surface heaving and shuddering and gulping.

“Very good,” my brother consults my Christmas-present-stop-watch, “you added another five seconds to your record.”