They watched the house through heat vapor that rose up from the road and waited impatiently as the family got ready to leave for vacation. First the fifth wheel appeared from its long metal carport like a snake shedding its skin, and the wealthy family began loading coolers and supplies. All the markings of those folks being out of town for quite awhile.
Terrance and Larry, sweat running down their faces, watched from the tree line beside the Thompsons’ driveway, far enough away to not be seen. The juvenile delinquents knew exactly when the neighbors drove away for their extended stay away, and the backyard swimming pool was no longer off limits to them. With temps well above 100, they’d sweltered the summer away and couldn’t wait to cool off in the precious water.
Larry screamed, “It’s ours now!” The other two followed his lead as he scrambled over the wooden fence. Any splinters gained soon to be soothed in chlorinated coolness. The boys stripped down to jump in wearing shorts, but Haley took hers off to swim in her tank top and undies.
She dove in the deep end and swam away from the boys as quickly as possible to the opposite side of the pool, kicked her thin legs up over the side, and lay back in the water with her rear end resting on the side wall. That position left her ears submerged and muffled the noise of those idiots as they splashed and dunked each other. The water muted their sluicing around and brought sweet relief from both the barrage of heat and constant volume of their nonsense. The tussle became a far off sound, another thing she could pretend wasn’t happening.
Reclined like that, the world faded away. Haley stared at the clouds as they drifted across her line of sight. One billowy mass formed the shape of Italy, the heeled boot across the great ocean, which made her smile. She closed both eyes and the image stayed imprinted inside her lids. I wish I could go there, she thought.
Haley wanted to stay in the water, enveloped in the sense of security it gave her. No worry about lack of air conditioning at her house. No thoughts of whether her mom and dad would be fighting when she got home.
Poolside, the boys argued about their plans for later. Terrance warned that a prolonged stay might raise the attention of other nosy neighbors and possibly the cops. He cautioned, “We better not stay here too long. ‘Sides, we got that party to go to across town.”
“I don’t think it’s no ghetto party,” Larry replied. “They might even have some free beer.”
Terrance gave the concrete beside Haley’s legs a hard thwack with his flattened palm. “You listenin’ to us, girl? We gots to go.”
Her eyes popped open with a start, and her calves scraped across the pavement to splash back in the water. “Whydya do that? You made me hurt myself!”
“Oh, boo hoo,” he told her. “That ain’t all that’s gonna hurt if you don’t hurry up. We gotta get outta these wet clothes. Come on!”
Haley pushed back off the side of the pool to go under water again and let its briskness embrace her one last time.
Our Write Side writing prompt – thwack
photo: Piscina by Daniel Lobo