For Children

Maeve Shepardson

Pool Party

3rd & 4th Grade Prose Winner

“Honey, you have mail!” I shot up a look with a piercing stare but mom didn’t see me. She was upstairs in the living room reading the New York News.

“Coming!” I said with the undertone of I’m in a bad mood so leave me alone. The blanket curled around me felt so comforting.

“Come up, Grace.” Her tone made my emotions change. I didn’t know it, but that very minute would change my life.

When I got upstairs, the same voice wrapped around me and pulled me closer. In my mom’s hand was a card covered in blue glitter with golden mermaids swimming in clear water. Mermaids. Gold. Water. The mermaids flashed in my eyes. Eyes filled with teasing, taunting. Tears trickled down my cheek as my mind went whirling. Ever since I was little people would laugh at me because I couldn't swim. Now water is a fear. I dashed upstairs. In the distance I heard, “It’s Annie, your best friend!”

When I reached my room I sat down on my bed crying. The blue walls seemed to taunt me. “You have to go in the water!” they said. I hugged Mr. Koala then threw him on the ground. “Why do you just get to sit around? I can’t swim and you can’t help!”

Dad heard my cry and sat on my bed. He bent down and picked Mr. Koala up. “You know, when I was your age, I had a Mr. Monkey and we were tight friends.” My eyes started to dry. “I took him everywhere. To the park, restaurants, and even the bathroom! We would never let go.”

“Dad,” I sighed. “When you were little, were you ever afraid?”

“Of course. You can’t grow up without a little fear. But never forget this: life has its ups and downs, only you can change how you see them.”

I hugged him tight. “Dad…thanks.” He smiled. As he left the room he left behind something that I can’t describe. Something so magical it gave me a feeling that I was safe in this humble house in this world.

The next day I woke with a smile. Sometimes you wake up with a feeling so good that no one can ruin. It gives you shivers and your heart explodes with feeling. I woke with that feeling. “Mom! What's for breakfast?” I said skipping to the kitchen.

“Eggs. And don’t forget, Annie’s party is today!” The spell was broken. My heart shattered into a thousand pieces. My fork felt heavy and the salted scrambled eggs tasted like cardboard.

I slammed the door and went into the bathroom. I stretched on my bathing suit to find it was too small. I pouted, “What will people think when I need a floatie? I can’t swim and I’m 7!”

“Time to go!” Mom pulled me as I blinked back tears.

When I entered the building, the aroma of chlorine poured into my nose. A friendly-looking man said, “Welcome! You must be…” He took out a paper labeled “Guest List.” “Grace. Right? Just this way.” Quickly I followed behind him. We were silent. Eerily silent. He stopped short at a door covered in balloons and streamers. “Here we are…Gabby?”

“Grace,” I said with a shaky voice. He pulled open the door slowly.

I glanced around, then stared down at my feet. I hoped that my ears weren't as red as they felt. The pool was on the far side of the room with a beaten-up diving board. The rest of the room was bare except for all my friends. “We are having cake in 1 hour, for now you can swim…oh my golly! No one's swimming!” 

“Excuse me sir, when's the swim teacher coming?” I asked shyly.

“He's late,” he said.

I whispered, “Where are the floaties?”

“In the corner," he said.

Suddenly everyone found an excuse to go to the corner, which seemed weird. I slowly followed them careful not to attract attention to myself. Suddenly everyone was grabbing floaties because no one could swim!

My heart was swelling as I sprinted to the bin. The whole world seemed to slow down. Kids screeching left and right. Smiles everywhere. Water droplets danced in the air. I looked at mom. I remembered what she told me—tears of joy are the best tears. I took a leap of courage into the bright blue water and joined my friends. I looked up and thought, “Thank you.”