Mary Beth has decided a swim would be a nice break from settling into the new apartment. She tells the kids to don their swim suits.
“Hey, guys,” she called to the children. “Let’s take a break. Find your swimming suits. The manager said the pool is heated.”
“Yippee,” shouted Linette. “I’m glad we came to Phoenix.” She ran to her room to get into her suit.
Sam appeared in the hallway, struggling to take off his shirt over his head. “I’ll be ready in a second, Mom.” He flung down the shirt and unzipped his pants.”
“Sam!” Mary Beth protested. “You can’t strip in the hall.”
“It’s okay, Mom. I have my suit on already.”
And probably have all week long, she thought. “You kids are way ahead of me, aren’t you?” She sighed. “Just wait for me. I don’t want you out there by yourselves.”
She jogged down the hall, eager now for the swim. It would be fun, just like when she was a kid. She’d always regretted it when her folks moved from Arizona during her teen years. Now she was back, and she planned to recapture some of the carefree feelings of her youth. Something had to work to remove this heaviness from her soul. Bill wouldn’t want her to grieve for the rest of her life.
She pulled her hair back into a ponytail, secured it with a wrapped band, then dove off the board after Sam. She came up sputtering a little, but feeling a sense of refreshment in the cool water.
“Oh mom, this is super!” Sam’s call rang out across the courtyard. “You can’t do this in Colorado on Halloween.”
“Keep your voice down, Sam. We’re living with a lot of other people in this complex.” Treading water, she looked around at the handful of people in the pool area. “We don’t want them to think we were raised in a barnyard.” When Sam made a motion as though he were zipping his lips shut she grinned, then swam to the side and looked around for her daughter.
Linette had entered the shallow end of the pool and was happily splashing in her swim ring. “Mom,” she called. “Watch me. I can almost swim!”
“Yes, Babe, and next summer I’ll get you into swimming lessons for sure. You need to know how to swim if we stay down here long.”
Sam hauled himself up onto the side of the pool. “We are staying, aren’t we? I thought you said we were moving here for good.”
“We’ll see, Sam. Things like this take time to work out.”
Mary Beth climbed out by the pool ladder and went over to the springboard. “Watch this, kids. I used to do this dive all the time before we moved to Chicago.”
Mary Beth’s toes gripped the end of the board, then she jumped into the air. Time and unused muscles and an unfamiliar board worked against her, and she hit the water with a resounding smack.
Winded, she broke the surface, gasping for breath, then swam slowly to the side.
Two long, tanned arms reached down and helped her up the ladder.
“Are you all right?”
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Mary Beth Larson emerges from the fog of loss in a new location with two young children, determined to start her life again. Glen Hampton and his little kids have already survived their own tragedy. Maybe this Halloween means something besides Trick or Treat. A "Misty Moments" short story.
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