Cruising around the Writers’ Digest site the other day and they have a place with “prompts”–tiny scenarios with a word limit to try your hand at. One in particular caught my eye, so I gave it a shot:
You and a friend break into your neighborhood swim club late one night to go for an after-hours dip. While splashing around in the pool, you go into shock when a dead body floats to the top. Worse yet—it’s someone you know. Write this scene. No more than 500 words.
“I dare you!”
I glanced at Mark as we drove down the empty street that ran past the public pool in the small city where I lived. The inside of the car was dark but I could see his eyes gleaming with mischief. He thought I’d blow him off. Without stopping to think, I made a quick right into the parking lot.
“You’re on!” I cut the engine. He was already looking out the window at the chain-link fence with barbed wire on top that completely surrounded the pool and its outbuildings.
“Oh, man, I don’t know…” he trailed off.
“Getting cold feet?” I teased, “Can’t swim?”
He finally turned to me. “I never thought you’d go for breaking into a place,” he confessed. I grinned back at him and jingled my key ring.
“Gotcha! They gave me a key last year!” I nearly hooted at the look on his face.
“Last one is a rotten egg!” I loped across the parking lot. Mark was after me in no time. I kept to the shadows just in case. There were strict rules about swimming alone, much less after hours. The city parks director gave me a key with my solemn promise only to swim if the lifeguards were setting up. So far, I had never given him cause to regret his gift. I got to the gate near the deep end and clicked open the lock.
“Bitch!” Mark’s whispered exclamation tickled my neck.
“Thought I was making it up, didn’t you?” I closed the gate behind us and looped the chain around the posts. The deep end of the pool shimmered in the street lights that lined the parking lot, too bright for a midnight skinny dip. I beckoned Mark and we tiptoed our way to the shadowed shallow end.
At the wide stairs leading into the water I dipped in a toe. Still warm from the summer day. I looked over my shoulder at Mark and grinned at him. I stepped into the darkest spot I could find, slid off my clothes and took a running jump into the water.
“C’mon, chicken,” I stage-whispered at him as I surfaced. He stood there, mouth agape. I must have really surprised him this time.
I turned around and faced the deep end to give Mark a moment of modesty. Suddenly, I felt my feet go out from under me. I flailed around, but knew Mark would never hurt me. He made his point and we both bobbed to the surface laughing and sputtering.
“You’re crazy!” I splashed him. He fell back away from me, a sudden, awful expression on his face; his gaze over my shoulder. I whirled around.
The body floated delicately toward us. On its way, it passed under a streetlight. Even though the face was pale and soggy, bleached by the pool water, I knew it too well. I nearly levitated into Mark’s arms. He clung back.
“Oh, my God,” I gasped, “That’s Kathy!”