By Steph Dower

“No way! I told you I can’t swim.”
I turned my wheelchair around and started driving away. Is he actually crazy? I’ve just told him I can’t swim and he wants to throw me in the pool!

Suddenly he’s in front of me, blocking my path. I look up at him as he leans towards me supporting himself on my arm rests. He’s so close. An overwhelming desire sweeps through me. If I just move my head forward an inch, our lips would be touching.. I’d actually be kissing him! My head starts to spin.

“Do you know the best part about diving into a pool?” He asks. “It’s that moment when you are totally free from any physical object or surface. It’s a second of freedom that you can’t get anywhere else, well, unless you’re like a base jumper or something. But let’s start with landing in water first.” A crooked smile broke across his face. I haven’t been able to get that smile out of my head lately. I’m sure that he can see the worry that must be etched all over my face.

“Do you trust me?”

My automatic response should be NO! I barely know this guy. We’ve been well, I’d guess you say friends for less than 2 weeks. And yet, my entire being feels comfortable around him. It’s my brain that’s doing its usual freak out at anything outside of my comfort zone thing. But I’m sick of thinking. I just want to do something. Be impulsive, take a chance!

I look at the pool, it’s crystal blue water looks so inviting. “Sure… I guess.” As soon as the words leave my mouth he lifts me up and whisks me towards the water. I scream! Suddenly I feel his body disappear from around mine, and everything else falls away from me. I’m free! Nothing is holding onto me or supporting me. It feels amazing! Then my stomach drops, as does the rest of me, and a rush of water engulfs me. This was the part my brain had every right to freak out over. Then, there’s a muffled splash from about a metre away. Hands start grabbing me, and pulling me to the surface. A sharp intake of breath brings me back to reality, and then I open my eyes. I’m met by a face filled with wild excitement with just a hint of trepidation. My heart is beating so fast, I think I’m in shock. A weird sound, something like a scream, escapes my mouth and then suddenly I can’t do anything but laugh. And soon he is laughing with me.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe that you just did that! I can’t believe that I just did that!” I gasped. My mind is racing as I try to regain control of my body. The hysterical laughter slows down then subsides.

“What did I tell you?” he beamed.

Awhile later, I’m lying wet, cold and dirty in an overgrown nearby field. I stare up at the slowly moving clouds surrounded by bright blue sky. An unexplainably wide grin stretches across my face. My chair sits empty to my right, and the beautiful guy who has totally shaken up my whole world, lies to my left. I can feel his gaze studying me, so I turn my head, meeting his gaze. My grin disappears suddenly, and is replaced by an emotion that I’m unfamiliar with. What is it?

I’ve never actually looked this intensely into someone else’s eyes before. In fact, I can’t remember ever looking into anyone else’s eyes, like never. I feel naked, it’s too intimate. I swear that he can see every single one of my thoughts as they scroll across my face. And yet, I can’t look away. I feel like this is the first time that I’ve ever truly connected with another human being. I didn’t realise until this exact moment, how much I had been craving this kind of connection.

I don’t see anxiety or pity in his eyes. I only see the understanding of an equal. I actually feel comfortable with him which scares me to no end. What if he wakes up and realises that this isn’t the life that he wants, and I have to live the rest of my life never feeling this kind of connection again? Stop! Stop overthinking it. A minute ago you were free and happy, maybe more than you ever have been before. Go back to that feeling. You’ll learn to live with whatever comes after it. You always have.

“I might be wet and dirty right now, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt this free.” I confess.

He smiles in agreement. “It’s true, the best parts of freedom usually do involve a little dirt.”

We both laugh. This just feels so, so easy. I turn my head back to the clouds. “Can you promise me something?”

“Sure.”

“If I ever get too caught up in my own head again, be sure to throw me back into the pool.”

I look at him from the corner of my eye. He turns his head towards the clouds, matching my relaxed posture.

“Done, and I’ll always jump in right after you.”


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