Jersey Pool

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“He had forced himself upon her just a week ago. But as he held me upright in the water, carrying my light body, it was the first time during the whole night I had dropped my guard with him. I had become vulnerable…”

It was past midnight when we finally got on the road to New Jersey from our house in New York. It was to drop of one guy to his residence given to him by the place he works. I hadn’t wanted to go. My formal blue shirt in jeans spoke leaps and bounds. I was in defensive mode. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want to be not liked despite it all and I just didn’t feel right.

After the hour drive passed I was spouting snarky comments at anyone that poked the bear. The bear being me. I was off my meds and had felt carsick the first time in my life. I might not have been as mean as I think I was but being feisty was usually isolated to people I was comfortable with. However, now I was defensive and feisty. They must have been thinking what’s wrong with her.

As everyone jumped into the pool I sat back in a chair and just watched with a smile. I was watching over my sister. She was always the overprotective one but today I was on duty. He was here today. The guy she had a fling with and had tried to convince her into having sex with him. The man that had tried to force himself on her.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t going into the water either because he was the one being dropped off so he sat back with me and we argued, in a very tame way. He just had a tone where he sounded sarcastic and offensive about everything. Or maybe it could have been just me. He had made me cry before I had even met him. I cried as I heard that my sister could have gotten hurt. He almost hurt her. So yeah, I already didn’t like him. 

His older brother and cousin didn’t understand why I wasn’t going into the water. I’m pretty sure they thought I couldn’t have fun. I’m pretty sure my mom-mode was emanating in massive waves. I didn’t want to put a damper into their immature fun. I remember having that fun. I didn’t know that two years would make me stumble in front of it. I was overly cautious before but when I was just getting better, life caught up with me. I had gotten several steps backward to where I was before. I was an 18 year old who was afraid to have fun. To be human.

But then he splashed a handful of water while I was caught off guard and I suddenly was soaking wet. I looked up at him. I wasn’t angry but I don’t know why I ran after him. He needed to pay. He needed to get dunked underwater. I chased him around the pool but failed and without realizing agreed to his offer of bringing a change of clothes for me to go into the water.

I was in the freaking pool…

If I were to be cynical, I thought everyone was finally happy that I decided to “have fun” or stop being the party pooper. Or, based on my sister, they were just playing with me and were instigating me to just get into the pool. Eventually he joined as well as the deal if I got in. I couldn’t think. My teeth were chattering like a chipmunk as I was freezing and wondered why the hell I agreed. I got colder easier than other people for my small, skinny build so I shivered wrapping my arms around myself.

It was past 2am.

I couldn’t swim as well, as a downside. All four of us, the girls, couldn’t swim. I had gone to my share of beaches and ventured into the water, but again I don’t know these people. I’ve seen people that I’ve trusted and who’ve said they could swim well end up drowning instead of me, who everyone thought would be the first one to drown. So no, I don’t trust these people enough to save me or each other if things went wrong.

They asked why I was barely speaking. I can talk a lot. Everyone might think I’m an extrovert for my high social skills. But to me it’s always been a skill, a tool to get through life.

“I was an intense introvert going through recovery.”

However, the three guys took it upon themselves to help the girls venture into the 5m side of the pool. I don’t know how, but I ended up with him, my current archenemy, as help. He, for some random reason, felt bad for me. As he grabbed my waist, he lifted my light body to float higher as he walked deeper into the pool. I was freaking and thrashing, screaming nicely I hope, to let me go. I did not trust this guy. I’ve barely had guys touch me before. They were either accidents or friendly hugs, which I eventually put a stop too for my overprotective family. They were open. But I was also was their baby. So, I expressed my need to hug, touch, and express affection only to them and my girlfriends.

But here was this guy enveloping my tiny waist with his two hands as he carried me further in and then turned me around to carry me in bridal style. One word. Uncomfortable. No actually, more words. I was scared out of my mind. His arm holding under my butt and another behind my back, I was thinking great. He’s the first to touch my ass. And it’s unintentional. And awkward.

I’ll be honest though, at that moment I was only thinking of not drowning till I got off guard as he moved his arm from under my ass to under my knees positioning me comfortably in his embrace. He was carrying me, but my tiny form seemed to be enveloped by him.

“You’re so light. You seem to weigh only ten pounds, “ he said laughing. “Thank you,” giving him a query look and he responded “is it really a good thing?” “Clearly not, but what do you want me to say.” But I laughed. I turned to see my sister was being carried bridal style by his cousin and she seemed relaxed as she leaned her head backwards into the water.

“I feel bad, you can’t swim. Here let me teach you,” and as he tried to let go to move me to hold his back I shrieked as I grabbed him to keep myself from going under. He was still holding me. We weren’t bantering like my sister said he loved doing. It almost worked but after a few shrieks and asking him not to kill me, I began to trust him. I began to feel comfortable in this man’s embrace. I was no longer worrying about my older sister, by two years, as I watched her act adorable. “She’s so adorable,” I murmured with affection. I loved my sister. We had never gotten as close as we did this summer.

“Do you think more than you?” he replied.

“Yes,” I replied without hesitation but I was grinning ear to ear. Smiling came to me easily. And surprisingly after all evening, it was the first unforced smile till he said, “I don’t think so.” I wasn’t sure if I was meant to hear.

I mean I looked twelve to all of them, I reasoned. I must be a child to all of them despite being 18 but I couldn’t help but be caught off guard. He was nice. He hadn’t done anything particularly wrong the whole day. I froze as I realized that he might be a good person.

But then what had happened that night? Was he really caring as everyone continually kept saying? Should he be defined by what he did that night? People make mistakes I realized. He might have made a mistake. He has his flaws but I realized truly where his fault lied. He didn’t know what he had done wrong. Despite my sister saying “No,” throughout the night, he kept convincing her to think she meant “yes.” And worse he never apologized, not even realizing that was the actual reason why she broke it off. So he fucked up… bad.

But I glanced up as he ran back to the car before we drove off leaving him, offering me a sweater, remembering that I had mentioned I was cold before. I shook my head to say was fine.

I made sure I told my sister I felt used. He was the first guy to touch me like that and he was clearly taking care of me to impress you. So, I told her…let’s not do that again. I cried when I got home. It must have been because I was off my meds.

It was 4am when we got home.

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