Title: Begging to Breathe
Genre: YA mystery
I spend the first length of the pool underwater, dolphin kicking along the bottom, dragging my fingertips across the tiles. The bulkhead that separates the part of the pool for competition from the part of the pool for easy swimming floats two or three feet off the bottom, and from my perspective, I can see a shadow of something trapped underneath it. Something big.
I porpoise up, take a deep lungful of air, and dive back down. I’m less than five yards away, and my heart is pounding, because what I think I see can’t be real. I need air again, even though I can usually hold my breath for a couple minutes. I start to remember last year. As I tread water, taking deep, shaky gulps of oxygen, oxygen that refuses to inflate my lungs, Blue comes up behind me.
“Get out of the middle of the lane,” he says, swimming forward.
I pull his ankle backward. “L-look under the bulkhead.”
“Is it a condom again?” His voice breaks. He bites his lip.
Usually he throws out dirty jokes like I throw out second place ribbons—or, like I would if I had any—so I narrow my eyes. He raises his chin. I sigh. “Ew, no.”
He turns around and swims back the other way, leaving me alone. With it. Whatever it is. I focus, exhale, then inhale, and dive down, keeping my eyes closed until my searching fingers hit plastic. I follow the bulkhead down until it ends, then I open my eyes—and let out a scream of bubbles and kick away hard, fast, choking and gagging.
Oh my god oh my god oh my god.
Because it’s Julia.
And she’s dead.
And it’s all, undeniably, my fault.