‘I’m worried for your welfare!’ she shouted up to him, trying to hide her genuine fear.
‘I’ll be fine.’ He had come this far, he wasn’t going to turn back now and chicken out in front of everyone. A bet was a bet. He stood in just his pants and looked down at the black pool.
‘Are you sure it’s deep enough?’
‘Of course it is. People have been jumping into this pool for years.’ He tried not to think about the cold water, or the strong currents, of the rocks beneath the water. One deep breath and he bent his knees and leapt.
She watched him falling through the air and winced as he smacked into the surface, sending white spray flying. She waited for him to emerge.
Ten seconds. No sign of him. How long was too long? She ran towards the pool and dived in. The others just watched. She couldn’t see anything in the dark water. She came up for air and dived below again. She searched around, feeling with her hands. The cold water gripped her. Her wet clothes tried to drag her down. She had to come up for air again.
She broke the surface and gasped, filling her lungs. ‘I can’t find him!’
Before she could dive again, she heard the laughter and then saw them all looking at her and pointing.
He stood on the bank, wrapped in a towel.
‘Thanks for coming to my rescue!’ he shouted at her, making a show of bravado. She swam to the shore and hauled herself out, feeling like a fool.
Only later, when they were alone, would he admit to her how scared he had been for that moment under the water, and how much it meant to him that she had been willing to risk her own life to save him.
Also linking with Fandango’s One Word Challenge. Today’s word was: Welfare.