Submerged

This is something I wrote about three years ago. It’s cute and I thought it might be fun to post on here. If you like it can make it a running series which might be fun. Last months theme was fantasy, this months is conflict. Let me know what you think. Watch out for next months work.

It was a hot day during the last week of the summer. Most of the schools were already back, but there were a few which did not return until the next week. Normally the local pool would have been over flowing with local children and their parents, seeking some relief from the relentless heat. The pool was barely occupied. The life guard was sat watching the mostly empty pool, fanning herself gently. The parasol above her was blocking out the worst of the heat, but with no breeze the air was sweltering.

Out of the corner of her eye she noticed someone walk out of the male changing room. She registered he was tall, tanned with dark wavy hair as he dived straight into the refreshing depths of the pool. His head broke the surface of the water several metres from the edge and he began to strike out, making impressive distance with each long stroke. The lifeguard followed his progress only half paying attention to the rest of the people in the pool.
Her sunglasses were smeared from the sweat beading its way down the side of her face. She had wavy long hair which was tied loosely on top of her head. Her name was Harriot but she preferred Harry. Harry was athletic, smart and bubbly person, but she was invisible at school. This was the way she liked it. She worked as a lifeguard at the weekends and swam most mornings before class. If it was not for her only friend Charlie then she would barely talk to anyone at school except perhaps the teachers.
Harry continued to watch the boy pace up and down the pool. She knew the lad. He went to the same school as her and they shared classes. But he was on the football team, constantly in trouble, popular and with two or three girls on the go at once. Of course, he would have no idea who Harry was. She cast her mind around and tried to remember his name. Hunter, it must be him. Hunter was really testing himself today. Though there was no one to get in his way. The water rippled around him as he finished lap after lap of the pool.

“Hey, Harry I’m just going to check the chlorine pump, will you be ok for a few minutes?” called the pool manager from behind Harrys chair. She turned and gave a thumb up to him as he disappeared into the tank room. Harry turned back around to continue watching the pool. It took her a few moments to realise that something was different. The few children and their parents were playing loudly in the shallows of the pool and no one was in the deep end. Harry looked round and noticed that Hunter was not swimming laps anymore. Maybe he had gotten out while she had her back turned but there were no puddles on the side.

Then her heart sank. There was a shadow in the deep end of the pool. It wasn’t moving. Harry stood up in her chair, gripping the whistle in her fingers. The pool was three metres deep; it would take a second for Hunter to break the surface if he had dived under. Harry waited a few tentative seconds, her heart beginning to pound in panic.  Nothing happened. Every second counted. She shoved the whistle between her teeth and gave three sharp blasts. Harry propelled herself out of the chair pulling the float behind her.

Harry opened her eyes under the water and through the murky haze. Hunter was drifting lifelessly at the bottom of the deep end. Within a few strokes Harry was next to him. His eyes were shut and he didn’t respond as Harry wrapped her arms around him. She pushed off the floor of the pool and kicked for the surface. It was not an easy feat. Hunter was big and lean. He weighed Harry down. Beginning to gasp herself for air, Harry hooked one arm under his shoulder and used her strong arm to help push them to the surface. At last her face broke the surface of the water. She inhaled deeply before dipping under to pull Hunter up with her.

Harry rolled onto her back so that Hunter was supported against her chest; keeping his head and shoulders out of the water.  She pulled the float under his back to stop him sinking. They were in the centre of the deep end. Harry kicked for the edge of the pool and to her relief the manager was stood waiting for her with a stretcher to hand. She struggled with the effort of moving the pair of them through the water. After a couple of minutes, she reached the edge and raise one of Hunters arms for the manager to grab.
Carefully, her manager grasped Hunter wrists and Harry place his head against his managers toes before hoisting herself out. She grabbed the stretcher and placed it in the water alongside Hunter. Together, they rolled him onto the stretcher and pulled him out of the water. Harry knelt down beside Hunter and felt for a pulse. She could not feel any throbbing on his wrist or his neck. His chest was not moving either.
Harry started administering chest compressions. There were only a few minutes before he might suffer permanent brain damage from lack of oxygen. Harry tilted Hunters head back and blew in a long, hard breathe. She could feel his lungs inflate under her touch. There was a flicker of hope as she returned to the compressions. Her manager went to call for an ambulance. She continued to administer CPR to no avail. The panic rose inside of Harry, she was wondering how long Hunter had been submerged. Harry leaned down to administer further breathes, his stomach twitched. With a violent jolt, Hunter was spluttering and coughing up water from his lungs.

To Harry’s relief she rolled him onto his side to allow him to cough up the water from his lungs. Hunter drew in a deep long breathe. The sound was incredible. She reached down to pull the hair away from his face as his eyes shot open, wild and confused. He rolled over and stared in panic at her face. CRACK. A fist shot straight up and connected with the side of Harrys face. She fell hard onto the concrete next to him. The paramedics arrived at that moment. Hunter sat up and looked round confused and scared. Harry was dazed. The paramedics stepped between Harry and Hunter. Her face was throbbing and felt tender and her vision blurred. Everything swirled and she fell back out cold onto the concrete. Knocked out cold by the person she had just saved.

***

Harry was lying on the bench in the locker room; her feet elevated above her head and a pack of ice being held against her cheek. She had refused to go to hospital. The last thing she needed was her dad fusing over her. Her head throbbed as she stared at the ceiling. The wooden boards drifted in and out of focus with the occasional urge to vomit. The door open and her manager stepped into the room.
“How are you feeling kid?” he asked kindly coming over to sit next to her. Harry groaned and closed her eyes instead of replying. “You should be proud of yourself, not many people can say that they saved a life and needed paramedics attention for doing so.” he laughed. Harry frowned at him from underneath her ice bag. “Anyway, I will give you a lift home, you are in not fit state to drive.” Harry sat up in response, her head spun from the sudden movement. The last thing she wanted was to be taxied around by her boss.
“No, I will walk, don’t worry,” said Harry, getting up to her feet and shoving her feet into her ancient trainers. I can just pick up my car tomorrow.” She swung her bag over her shoulder.
“The paramedic said that you might have concussion, you shouldn’t be left alone.” Her manager said anxiously, Harry could tell that he was being kind but she was set in her decision now.

“My mother will be waiting for me at home, I won’t be alone.” Harry said reassuringly and before her manager could protest. Harry pushed her way out of the door and pulled her hood up as she turned to walk the dozen blocks home. Her head was still swimming from Hunters punch. She had a large bruise forming on the side of her face which would make for an unwanted talking point. Harry swore as she realised, she had forgotten half her stuff back at the pool but she wasn’t going to go back and see her manager again. So, she continued the walk home.
Harry eventually reached her house and let herself in. It was a large building in a very quiet cul-de-sac at the edge of town. The house was empty as usual. Harrys mother and father had gone through a bitter divorce during her early teenage years. They had a strong custody battle had left her living with her father. He was a kind, loving man but as a surgeon he was rarely in the house leaving Harry to look after herself. Harry opened the door and dumped her bag on the hall floor and caught sight of herself in the mirror. She was sporting a spectacular black eye.
“Brilliant, just bloody brilliant.” she said to herself. Harry stormed upstairs to her bedroom and collapsed onto of her bed fully clothed. Thank god the day was ending. She shut her eyes and turned herself off from the world in the silence of the house.

Harry awoke to the smell of dinner; she opened her eyes wearily and looked round at the clock. It was after 10 o’clock. Harry pushed herself up to her feet and made her way down stairs. Her father was sat at the table, occupying himself with his iPad whilst eating his dinner. His eyes flicked up from the screen as Harry entered the room. She moved her hair over her eye to cover the large black bruise protruding beneath.
“Hey sweetie, there is some risotto on the stove, though we didn’t have rice so it’s a pasotto. It might not even be that but hey I’ve not had to go back to hospital so that is an achievement.” He smiled at Harry. Harry walked over to the stove and looked into the pot at the congealed mush and over cooked pasta. She grabbed a spoon and tasted the contents. It was revolting and she gagged at the taste. Her father laughed and continued to eat his way through his serving.
“I think I will skip dinner” Harry laughed and took the contents of the pot and threw it into the compost bin and set to clean the dish.
“How was work today, anything exciting happen?” asked her dad from behind her as he got up from the table. Harry froze momentarily before deciding how to answer. He placed his plate in the sink to rinse and Harry started to clean it. If he knew she had a concussion then he would be worried.

“Nothing exciting, just a kid stood on a thumb tack but I extracted it ok.” Harry said, quickly washing his plate. “That’s my girl, you will be a great surgeon one day if you can already perform operations that complicated.” He said, squeezing her on the shoulders and turned to leave the room. “I am on shift at 6 so I will see tomorrow, love you sweetheart” He gave her a kiss on the back of the head and turned to leave. Harry was on her own again. This was her life and this was how she preferred it.
The rest of the week passed without any developments, her manager refused to let her come in and gave her shifts away to the other life guard. The last week went very fast and soon it was time to go back to school. The summer was over and now it was time to hit the books again. The bruise on her eye faded to a light green haze, which despite the application of plenty of make-up was still visible. Harry had managed to avoid any unwanted attention from her dad and at work. When the dreaded first day of school arrived. Harry chose her normal jeans and jumper, pulling her hair back into a bun and putting her glasses on. They shielded the attention away from her injured face.
Harry made her way out of the silent house; her dad already having left for work and made her way down the road to school. She walked quickly with her headphones in to drown out the monotonous shrieking of reunited people and boasting about holiday experiences from her fellow students. Harry made her way up through the campus and through the endless corridors finally locating her old locker. She was distracted while she was hauling her books into her rucksack as someone approached and tapped her on the shoulder. Harry spun round in shock and dropped her bulging bag onto her foot with a painful thump.
“Clumsy as ever?” said a familiar voice, Harry looked up and saw Charlie grinning down at her. Charlie was Harrys only friend and spent the summer away traveling Europe; leaving her to fend for herself all summer. “Charlie!” Harry exclaimed, leaving the dishevelled books on the ground. “Where have you been, I’ve missed you so much.” She pulled him into a hug and he gripped her tightly back. Harry held on a bit longer, the joy of having her best friend back after a summer of loneliness was slightly overwhelming. Charlie was tall, handsome and lean. He was on the football team and popular but had been hanging out with Harry since they were small children. Harry had help him pass a lot of his classes. In return, Charlie would defend Harry in the playground and from bullies but now a days she was pretty much invisible. Charlie pulled her back so he could get a good look at her and his eyes furrowed as he noticed the green tinge not hidden well by the make-up.

“Harry, what have you been up to?” Charlie asked, taking her face gently in his hands and pressing ever so gently on her bruised cheek bone. “Have you been walking into doors again while reading or has someone been hurting you? He asked, his voice changing to a concerned tone. Harry tried to pull her face out of his grip and bent down to pick up her fallen books.
“It’s nothing, just a clumsy moment at work.” She said avoiding his eye contact. Harry gathered up her books into her bag and turned to leave. Charlie took the bag out of her arms, gripped her gently under her arm and lead her down the corridor into an empty classroom. He shut the door quietly behind them and turned to face Harry.

“You work in water. There’s no way you could get a black eye like that. It looks like you have been attacked. Now, you’re going to tell me what happened and who did this to you or so help me Harry” Charlie said getting angry at me for not telling him the truth. Harry leaned back against the teacher’s desk and looked at the floor. She hadn’t talked to anyone except her manager about what happened and she hadn’t seen Hunter since that day. The memory of franticly trying to restart his heart was not a comfortable one she wanted to talk about. Who else knew, no one had been talking about it, but then again, she didn’t socialise much?
“It was just something that happened last week, a once off” Harry mumbled to the floor. Charlie stepped forward and gripped her by the shoulders so that she would look at him. “I don’t think….” and before Harry could stop herself her eyes watered with tears and she closed her mouth to stop herself from crying. She didn’t know why but talking about the situation was stirring a delayed emotional response. Charlie shocked but her reaction wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly.
“Who did this to you?” Charlie asked again in a softer voice as the class room door opened again without either of them noticing. Harrys face was buried against Charlies shirt to hide her face.
“I’m afraid this is my fault.” Said a voice from behind Charlie. Harry froze rigid recognising the voice. Charlie felt Harrys reaction and jumped to the worst conclusion. Releasing Harry, he wheeled round and had Hunter up against the wall by the collar of his shirt. Harry in shock and confusion rushed forward and grabbed Charlies arm, to stop him from hurting Hunter. Charlie had a temper and had been in some brutal fights over the years. A couple in Harrys defence.
“You? What did you do to her face?” Charlie asked angrily, trying to shake Harry off of his free arm. “What sort of person goes around punching girls?”

“It wasn’t like that” Harry said, pulling his arm with all her strength, which wasn’t very much. She looked at Hunter who was seething himself.  They were both several inches taller than her so she could barely get between them to block their eye contact.
“Yes, I hit her and knocked her out, but this was after I was drowning and she was trying to save my life!” Hunter gasped trying to push Charlie off him. This statement didn’t seem to sink in to Charlie, his grip tightened when he heard that Harry had been knocked out. Trying a different tatic, Harry dodged under Charlies outstretched arm and put herself between Charlie and Hunter.
“He was drowning and it was a reflex” Harry said, trying to push Charlie away by the shoulders. She might as well be pushing against a brick wall. Harry at least stopped Charlie from crushing Hunter with his weight. “I was fine, it’s just a bruise, it didn’t even hurt.” She lied. Charlie snorted looking directly at her in the eye now. The make-up had rubbed off slightly against this shirt and the dark green tinge was clearly visible. With all her strength, Harry pushed Charlie away and finally separated them. Hunter gasped for air behind her. Charlie was still breathing heavily, staring at Hunter with disgust.
“Charlie just go, I’ll talk to you later.” Said Harry, still deliberately blocking Charlies path to Hunter.

“I’m not leaving you alone with him!” said Charlie astounded. She pushed him again towards the door.
“I don’t need you to defend me. Just go.” Harry said angrily. Charlie looked at her and with look of revulsion toward Hunter, turned and left the classroom, slamming the door shut behind him. Harry turned around to face Hunter and reached down to help him to his feet.

“I’m sorry, Charlie can be a little bit over protective sometimes. Are you ok?” she asked. Bending down to grab her bag to leave.
“I’m fine, I just wanted to see if you were ok Harry.” Hunter said, his voice relaxed as he straightened out his jumper. His hair fell in front of his deep green eyes, as he stared intently at her. They lingered over the nasty bruise over Harrys eye. She raised her hand to try and block it from view. “You can really take a punch.
“I’m ok. It’s good to see you up and about.” She said and turned to leave. Harry was so confused. Hunter had never taken any notice of her existence before and now he knew her name. Hunter side stepped her and blocked the way out. Harry froze and her heart started thumping harshly in her chest. She did not understand what he wanted.
“I just want to say thank you Harry, not just for saving my life and for not telling anyone.” He said, the awkwardness between them could actually be felt in the air. “I don’t want people to know about it and I appreciate you for keeping it on the down low. I’m also sorry for clocking you. I came to my sense a few seconds after I knocked you out. I was shocked at what I did when I saw you on the ground. I wanted to wait for you to come around to apologise but the paramedics took me to hospital. I came back to the pool later but you weren’t there.” He finished, looking sheepishly at her.
“Its fine it’s my job to take the punches.” Harry tried to laugh at her own joke but Hunter only smiled bemusedly. “I doubt anyone will notice anything happened and this is nearly healed.” She said a little too loudly. This conversation was not worth the embarrassment. Harry shifted uncomfortably, waiting for Hunter to let her leave.
“Well, you are a tough girl. Not many people can rescue someone my size and take a full-blown punch to the head. God knows what could have happened. The paramedics might have made you come in with me.” Hunter said and the both of them smiled together. He paused for a second before continuing.
“If there is anything you need, just let me know, I owe you my life.” He finished and stuck out his hand to hers.
“That’s not necessary” Harry started reaching out to accept Hunters hand. Instead of shaking it, he pulled Harry hard into his chest and bent down to kiss her. Harry was taken completely a back by the surprise and her heart fluttered. Just as fast as he had kissed her it was over. Hunter turned and left the classroom with Harry confused and bewildered behind. After a few seconds she followed Harry out but he was nowhere to be seen. Charlie was waiting outside the door. He was talking to her but she did not hear a word as the pair of them walked to class, the bell ringing over hear. What had just happened?

***

Harry hurried to her first class and kept her head down during the rest of the day. She was trying to process what happened and why. It came to lunch time and Harry sat at a corner of the lunch hall fiddling with her food. She could see Charlie sitting with the other football players including Hunter. They occasionally passed dirty looks between each other. Charlie would glance in her direction as if he was checking up on her and smile. He had always been an attentive friend, made sure that no one bothered her but in a brotherly way, today was something different more intense. She could not work Hunter out. Something was going on with him, all the secrets and the way he had exhausted himself to the point of drowning. But it wasn’t her business to get involved in.

Harry finished her lunch and then headed to the library to start her homework assignments. It was hard to believe how much homework she had been given in one morning. She had a free period afterwards and remained in the library to work. Harry had her headphones in but when the song ended, she could hear giggling and whispering around her. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw a couple of popular girls who were never seen in the library laughing from behind a bookshelf, looking directly at her. A feeling of dread lurched in the pit of Harrys stomach. She put her head down and tried to continue on with the assignment. The bell finally rang signalling the end of the day.

Harry walked straight home without waiting for Charlie. He only lived a few houses down from her but she did not feel like talking about the events of the morning. When she arrived, her dad wasn’t in yet and he probably wouldn’t be in until late. Harry set about making dinner and left a portion out for her father. Harry was continuing to work at the swimming pool a couple of nights a week to earn some extra money, all of which she saves towards university. The late nights were starting to draw in it was dark by the time she was walking home.  The rest of the week passed like a normal school week, Harry hung out with Charlie, studied and kept her head down at school. The bruise on her eye had eventually faded but Harry noticed the odd giggling and pointing from her peers.

Finally, Friday drew in and the weekend was in sight, Harry was going to hang out with Charlie on Saturday and work at the pool in the evenings. They were going to study together as Charlie was already behind on course work. The school day finished and Harry headed to work as normal. As Harry walked out of the changing room in her life guarding uniform. Tonight, she noticed there were several familiar faces at the pool, mostly guys from the football team. Harry could feel their eyes on her as she climbed into the chair. They mucked about and swam some lengths before to Harrys relief they left the pool complex. The rest of the evening passed with nothing to report. Harry closed the pool and after locking the gates started to walk home.
With her head phones in she didn’t hear the sound of the group of football lads pursuing her. She reached a corner and waited for the traffic lights to change when a hand touched her shoulder. Harry turned around with a fright to see the a few of the football lads standing behind her.  They were all tall and lean, perfect specimens of future sport stars.
“Excuse me,” said the one who touched her on the shoulder, “Are you Harriot the life guard?” he asked innocently. There was a flicker in his eye. Harry pulled out one of her headphones and nodded. “We are in your year; do you fancy coming with us to a party tonight?” Harry was bewildered. No one payed her the slightest bit of attention let alone invited her anywhere.
“Where is this party?” Harry asked quietly. The boys were sniggering behind their friend. “Oh, it’s just around the corner at one of our teammates houses. Everyone is coming” he added. “A sort of farewell to summer” There was a genuine tone to his voice but Harry still felt uneasy. She was hauling a large sports bag with her and still had her swim suit on underneath her clothes.
“I think I will give it a miss guys, I’m not really dressed for the occasion.” She said and turned to cross the road but the boy put an arm around her shoulders.

“No one cares what your wearing, it’s very casual. It’s just up here” He started guiding her up the road and his friends in tow. One of the guys took her bag off her and carried it. Harry gave in and decided to humour them. She wouldn’t need to stay very long if it was just casual. The party was just around the block, but there only seemed to be a dozen people there and most of them were the highly popular clique crowd. Harry hesitated at the door but was steered in by the boy. Every one of the people greeted her and welcomed her in. She had never spoken to any of them. Even Charlie did not hang out with this crowd.

Harry sat down on the edge of a sofa in the corner and was offered a peculiar tasting drink which she accepted to be polite. It tasted sweet and warmed her insides. One of the boys came over and sat down on the arm of her chair, draping his arm over the back so that he was very close. He spoke openly and introduced himself. Harry found herself having a pleasant conversation with these complete strangers and started to enjoy herself. When she finished her drink it instantly refilled. Harry was feeling more relaxed by the minute. Everyone was lovely. Until at one point someone came over to her and sat down, this time wrapping his arm around her shoulders and putting his hand on her thigh. It was the quarter back, he had a slimy reputation around the school.
“So I hear that you are a life saver?” he asked into Harrys ear, she squirmed a little to escape his beer breathe. The eyes in the room flickered in their direction. They were leering in from all sides.
“I work at the swimming pool yes” said Harry politely, leaning away from the intrusive behaviour.

“I hear that you performed special services on people this summer why don’t you come with me and show me what you do.” He asked, his hand squeezing her thigh.
“Do you mean CPR” asked Harry trying to make a joke. It might have been the alcohol but she was being led away from the party by the quarter back. It wasn’t something she wanted but it just seemed to be happening.

“This is what I mean.” Said the quarter back in the quiet of the corridor. He pushed up against the wall trying to invade her mouth with his. She wriggled and tried to push him off with no avail. His forceful mouth refusing any noise to be made for help. His weight pressed her against the wall as his hands started to explore. Harry felt the rage start to flare in her stomach, this was not going to happen. She pushed him hard to get off her. He was brutally strong and moved his assault from her mouth to her neck painfully biting as she tried to push him off her.
Instinct kicked in and with all her might Harry jabbed at the boy’s throat causing him to stop. She grabbed his shoulders with her hands to hold him in place and brought her knee up as hard as she could between his legs. He groaned in pain and released Harry. She made for the door back into the party. She barely made it down the corridor.

“No one says no to me,” said the quarter back, his eyes furious and watering from pain. Harry slapped him as hard as she could. Her hand sang with pain as it made contact with his face. She saw the drunken anger in his eyes. This seemed to be the last straw. Harry dropped like a rock as he drew his fist back. But something flew over Harrys head and made a sickening crack contact with the quarter’s backs face. Harry remained on her knees as the quarter back fell in front of her.
Hunter breathed heavily looking at the unconscious quarter back. It took a moment for him to soften when he finally looked at Harry.

“Let’s get you out of here.” Hunter suggested and helped Harry off the ground. They walked out into the party to retrieve her bag. Every pair of eyes on the room followed them as they left and some people went to investigate the scene in the corridor. They were in Hunters truck in seconds and he was driving her away from the party.
“Harry can I get you some water or something?” Hunter asked. Harry blinked.
“Huh what” she blinked again. Hunter clicked his fingers at her the snapping gave her something to focus on.

“Do you need anything?” Hunter asked. His demeanour was calm, as if nothing had happened.

“What the hell? What is going on Hunter?”

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