I wander through Aqualand at night, muggy evening, Bordeaux-sticky. The place is closed to the general public, choir off-duty. Thirteen years old in my saggy blue Speedo suit, arms hugged tight to my budding chest. Inside my own head most of the time, I enjoy conversation with myself. Silence wraps me in a bubble. I stand on the edge of the high-board, toes curled over the ledge, naked urge to make the jump: an unobserved leap into dark. Emboldened, I climb metal stairs towards the death slide, bare-footed, alone with fear. I sit with my hands crossed at the top, stare down the vertical drop. Senses alive to cicada wings, pine resin, cold starlight. I lean back. Nobody is there to witness my fall, that weightless feeling: knowing I might leave the confines of the narrow black plastic, smash into French grey concrete or fly. Then the rush of water, it cuts me in two. The pain only adding to my sense of triumph as I walk, legs shaking, towards the main pool. Sit on the water jets, one by one. Watching the moonrise over the candyfloss hut, I soak it all up. Waves of pleasure rippling my flush pink face.
Eliot North is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominated writer, doctor and educator. Her prose, poetry and CNF have been widely published in literary magazines, commended in the National Poetry Competition and Hippocrates Poetry Prize NHS category 2014 and selected by Salt Publishing for their Best British Short Stories Anthology 2017.