“Water is the Driving force of all nature”- Leonardo da Vinci
Water and I have always had an interesting relationship. Some days we were inseparable, and others she was a cruel mistress who sought to entice and smother me to death. Either way I’ve always had a fondness for water. In 2011 my aunt and uncle were hosting a pool party at their house in New Jersey. Like every other time I was eager to visit them and take a dip in their pool, but this year was special. I was even more excited to bring my cousin along so that he too could experience the same joy that I felt every summer. My cousin is two years older than me and every summer he would spend the week at our house. So me, my mom, my dad, my brother and cousin hop in the car and begin our journey to New Jersey, where fate will have me experience something I will never forget. In the car we planned what we would games we would play in the pool, what food we eat and how we would teach each other different types of dives that we have learned over the years. As we progress, it is tradition that we stop by the Wawa located a mile from my uncle’s house. From Wawa I get a tub of ice cream and a big bottle of Fiji water, knowing that if I didn’t, I might pass out due to heat exhaustion. After leaving Wawa, we continue the rest of our journey and shortly arrive at our destination.
Once we arrived at our destination, I was ecstatic to hop in that glorious pool, but before that I had to pretend like I wanted to see the rest of my family in an awkward display of misplaced affection. The only ones I was excited to see where my uncle, aunt, her mother, three cousins and my godmother. Shortly after I rushed to the bathroom to change into my swimming trunks but as soon as I left out, my mom forces me to put on sunscreen to which I reluctantly comply. After the 5 minutes of rushed sunscreen application was over, I hurry out to the pool without a care in the world. I waited 15 minutes for my cousin to get to the pool and every second that he took I grew more and more agitated.
After what felt like an eternity he got there and the gloves were off. I tackled him into the pool and and our battle began. We assumed the roles of our favorite aquatic superheroes and villains. He was the infamous Black Manta and I was Aquaman. It was a classic battle between good vs. evil, and I had every intention to win. The goal of this game was to come out victorious and to bask in glory.
Elbows, punches, kicks and knees were all muffled and slowed down due to the water pressure. Back flips off the diving board, cannonballs and dives were all apart of the act. Many dynamic hits were traded off underwater. I had the majority of the hits but I knew that my cousin had a trump card up his sleeve. I should have seen it coming. I can remember his smug and arrogant smile but due to my ignorance I took it as just a facade in an attempt to stay true to his character.
In a matter of seconds I felt a major amount of pressure that land in my stomach. I felt like time had stopped as his foot hit my rib cage. Next thing I knew I was dunked underwater and kicked in my head. I was stunned and caught completely off guard. All of a sudden I saw two feet over my face and felt both impacting my face. Both shock and fear struck me. I was unsure of whether we were just playing or if he was serious. Many thoughts entered my mind during my time underwater. I thought maybe I hit him too hard or if he thought we were seriously fighting.
Pain didn’t affect me. Adrenaline fueled me as I was struggling to come up for air but my efforts proved useless as my cousin was holding me down with his feet. I tried to grab his leg in an attempt to stop him but I was kicked in my head again. At that moment I felt as though it would be my dip in my uncle’s pool. Things became blurred and nebulous. I felt a combination of sadness and betrayal. Then, as I thought all hope was lost, I saw a pole which was my beacon of light and I grabbed it. When I awoke, I was surrounded by my dad, cousin and uncle. I hear muffled arguing on who was to blame and why nobody came to help sooner. Once I was able to stand, my mind was blank. I lost the feeling of fear I had in the pool and instead I felt nothing but anger. I was silent. I heard both my dad and uncle trying to talk to me. Questions like, “ Are you okay?”, “ What happened?” went unanswered. I look up at my cousin who was standing directly across from me and I lunged forward and punched him in the face. I watched him go down as my dad grabbed me.
I was infuriated with him and my anger was similar to Jimmy Cross’s in the book The Things They Carried when Ted Lavender died. However, the only thing that died that day was my trust in my cousin. I asked myself, “Why would he do that to me? Why did he try to kill me? What did I do to deserve this?” Like Jimmy Cross I longed for answers and retribution. I wanted nothing more than to see my cousin suffer. He apologized to me but I was certain it wasn’t sincere. To this day, I still don’t know why all that happened but oddly enough I thank him. I am grateful that I now know you should never let your guard down in any situation. Anything can happen and it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Since then, I have forgiven my cousin and I respect him immensely as he enters a new chapter in his life with going into the Navy.
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