By Jenny Seay
I don’t know what I expected as I followed Lisa through the dark gangway, past the opening of a rusted, chain-link gate. But I distinctly remember feeling disappointed—the yard, its unkempt grass strewn with beer cans and battered lawn chairs, was nothing like Lisa had described.
She adjusted her purse strap and shoved a thick strand of blonde hair behind her ear before turning to face me.
“You know, it’s not normally this grungy.” Her tone was hushed, but hardly inconspicuous enough to go unnoticed by the boys awaiting our arrival. They snapped to attention, and Dwayne, who had a hopeless crush on Lisa, lumbered over to greet us.
“What’s all the whispering about?” he grinned, mimicking her volume.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Nosy people and how much I hate them.”
“Just for that, you’re going swimming!” He scooped my friend right out of her sandals, carrying her to the edge of the large, in-ground swimming pool in the middle of the yard. Its water was murky, and there was a layer of slime at the bottom.
“Put me down you asshole! Help!” she shrieked, arms flailing wildly as Dwayne hoisted her sturdy torso high above his head. He turned to face his older brother Darryl, seeking encouragement, but Darryl was busy sipping a can of Bud at the opposite end of the pool.
Lisa continued to squirm, and must have thrown Dwayne off balance, because he lurched forward a bit, springing her into the pool with a loud splash. Water spilled onto the dirty grass, ebbing and flowing as Lisa bobbed back to the surface. Her hair clung to her face, and black mascara trickled down her cheeks.
A light breeze picked up, and I shivered as I watched Lisa climb onto the deck. She wrung out her shirt while I rummaged for a towel in our bag of swimming gear.
“You alright?” I asked.
“Cold.” She snatched the towel from my hands and pulled it tight around her shoulders. Dwayne could tell she was pissed, and tried to make amends with a bear hug from behind.
“You know I was just playing, right?” Lisa shrugged him off and I felt his eyes settle upon me. His lips curved into a wicked smirk. “Now it’s your turn.”
I shook my head, and backed over to the furthest lawn chair.
“That’s alright. I’m just gonna sit here.” I was all set to plunk myself down, when Dwayne’s friends, Jimmy and Adonis crept up. A pair of muscular arms overpowered me, and I turned to find myself staring directly into Adonis’ mischievous eyes.
“Enough of this shit,” Jimmy declared loudly. Nobody comes to my house without goin’ in the pool.”
Adonis carried me over to the water, and I realized what was about to happen. Frantically, I kicked my legs until I had the momentum to spring from his grasp. But before I could bolt, I found myself surrounded by Adonis, Jimmy and Dwayne, all of whom reached out for me—leaving no room for escape. I dove for the ground, hoping to crawl underneath Jimmy’s long legs, but Dwayne retrieved me before I could scurry away. I tried to ball myself up so he couldn’t lift me, but found myself in the air anyway. I screamed and squirmed as Dwayne struggled to maintain his grasp. He handed me back off to Adonis, and Jimmy grabbed my legs, so I suctioned myself to Adonis’ chest, hoping that he wouldn’t be able to drop me without taking a dive himself.
“Stop, let go…put me down!” My wailings were as futile as Lisa’s had been.
Jimmy and the boys giggled, and Jimmy started the countdown. “Ready…one, two, three!”
I saw the sky before clinging to Adonis even tighter, and felt an Arctic blast as I hit the water headfirst. I wasn’t under for more than a few seconds, surfacing to the laughter of everybody in the yard except Darryl, who was still more focused on his beer. Goosebumps riddled my arms, and as I stood there with water lapping at my shorts it registered that I was freezing, drenched, and had no dry clothes to change into. My hair stuck to the back of my neck and tiny droplets from the ends trickled slowly under my shirt down my back.
Lisa, who was nearly dry, motioned for me to join her underneath her damp towel, and as we huddled together I noticed that I had indeed taken Adonis along for the ride. His brand new white Nikes squished as he stepped onto the deck, and he looked a little sheepish as he squeezed the water from his Bulls jersey.
“Guess I deserved that,” he said.
Adonis’ ruined shoes and soggy clothes were all the vindication I needed, and I leaned into Lisa as my anger subsided.
“If it was warmer this would be funny.”