“I would rather not.” Aly shifted from one foot to the other, and in the process took another step back. The edge was still too close for comfort.
Peter gave a bland smile. His mouth was a straight line across his face except for the slightly tipped corners. If it wasn’t for those the rest of his expression wouldn’t count as a happy look at all. It was the face that he only wore when things were not going his way… yet. Aly took another poignant step back.
“It’s not going to bite.”
Aly raised her eyes from the frigid swamp. “You can’t promise that.”
“I can promise that.” Peter, on the other side, took a step closer so that his toes were dangling off the edge. “Pools don’t bite.”
“Water does.” she huffed, tapping a toe in and pulling it out just as fast. It felt like ice, especially when the pavement under her soles felt like fire. Refreshing ice but freezing nonetheless. Aly swallowed slowly. The water was so clear she could see straight to the bottom except for where her own face stared back up at her. The reflection was frowning. Jerking her head away, she looked to the other end of the pool. The steps seemed much more promising as an entrance.
Peter’s voice was a threat. “Don’t even think about it.”
“It would be a lot easier…” she trailed off.
“But”Peter moved another precarious inch closer so the edge kissed the arches of his heels. “a lot less fun.” He mirrored her across the pool slinging his arms across his chest, and then drawled “What promise did you make to me again?” Damn him.
“It was a mutual promise.” she muttered, knowing she was in the wrong but still trying to procrastinate.
Then he said it, the real problem that she was trying to avoid bringing up.
“We only have one more summer Aly…” There it was. As if dragging out the first trip into the pool in months would prevent him from leaving.
Peter ran a hand through his hair, pushing down the brown waves the humidity had given him. A gesture she had seen him do a million times, and now once more. When he was gone, would she miss that? Would she forget all these little things when he wasn’t there to remind her of them every day? Arching his brows in her direction, Aly realized belatedly he was waiting for her to speak.
“And we promised to spend it together.” She was running out of time. “Having fun.”
“With no regrets.” he finished. “If you can’t even jump into the pool with me, there is no way you are going to survive what I have planned for next week.” He held his hand out.
Aly’s mouth went a bit dry. “Okay.” She stuck her own arm out unquestioningly, mirroring him this time. Being brave enough to jump into the pool first was easy compared to the bravery she would have to have next summer, without her best friend. “I’m ready.” Liar.
“On the count of three grab my hand.” The corners of his mouth touched his eyes. It was his real smile, all teeth and crooked to the side. “One.”
Aly braced her legs and took a deep breath, “Two.”
Then finally together they both shouted, “Three!”
They locked hands.
But in the next breath the water rose to meet them, or rather they fell to meet it and lost their grips. It didn’t bite. Peter had kept that promise, like all the others though the years. Aly had to be sure to keep hers too.
Especially the other she had made to herself.
Gasping for air, she blinked the water from her eyes and found him staring at her. “Task 1 complete.” he laughed, slicking back the hair from his face. She spit pool water at him in response just before he ducked back under.
Aly forced herself to look away. The bottom of the pool was just as clear as before and also, just like before, her reflection was frowning. By summer’s end she would fall out of love with Peter. Just as she promised herself.