Today is quiet and warm. Twenty-eight and climbing and I've used up my chlorine-exposure allowance for the day too early, switching to the cliffs just before lunch, jumping off and swimming back so many times even Duncan got tired and begged for a break.
Once more then, and we'll stop.
Jesus, Lochlan must have had his hands full raising you.
Lochlan nods. You should see her begging for one more candy apple. Christ. It was like trying to bottle lightning.
Good things shouldn't have a time limit.
I agree, Lochlan says and my knees buckle.
There she goes, Duncan laughs, and grabs me up to throw me off the cliff. I shriek and he goes running and then I sail through the air, loving the first two seconds, and freezing for the last three before smashing into the water hard, turning my blood to ice, waking me up, forcing me back up to the surface where I fill my lungs again. The colors are brighter, the water feels solid, the world is a second-chance in that moment. That's why I do it. I give myself his second chance. Jacob hit hard, there was no surface to fight back to, no more breath, no colors, no Bridget after that.
I turn and lie on my back, giving Lochlan the thumbs up as Duncan lands in the water just a little further out. Yes, I'm fine. Am I ever fine? I don't do this because it's a thrill, because I love the feeling of falling, I do it to baptize myself again and I fail but I keep trying.
We climb up the steps and are met with fresh towels. Ready to go in?
Yes, I lie. Hey, Loch? Can we get candy apples?
Yes, we can. Just one though. He laughs and then is serious again. You okay?
Not so much.
I don't want you jumping off anymore.
That's like telling someone not to breathe.
No it isn't-
HEY. He grabs my arm and yanks me back. I didn't say you couldn't. I said I don't WANT YOU TO. There's a difference, Bridget. LISTEN instead of reacting.
WHEN HAVE I EVER DONE THAT?
Wish you would. He looked so sad suddenly. It was like I was looking in a mirror and my breath caught again in my chest. I'm sorry, Lochlan.
We're here. We're living. No one said it was going to be easy but it's better than THAT. He points to the cliff again. Fuck his faith, Bridget. You said I don't have any, well I have a hell of a lot more than Jake ever did, and don't you forget it.