Jack took a deep breath to calm his nerves. "I can do it!" He told himself. "Johnny did it." Johnny was only slightly older and always use to go out of his way to outshine Jack.
Below young Jack was a portal to another realm. The clear blue water beneath him shimmered. "Oh god, I can't do it."
His mother was out there somewhere, Jack knew, flirting with the life guard closest to her.
It didn't matter to Jack, though, he thought his mom deserved a little happiness, especially without dad around anymore.
Jack could have been bitter that his dad abandoned the family and moved three states away, but honestly,
he just found himself fortunate to have his mother and though he irritated Jack to no end, he was thankful for Johnny as well.
Johnny, unfortunately, never learned this lesson.
Johnny was resentful about not having a father, and Jack knew it was extra hard for his brother due to the fact that he actually had good memories with the man.
Johnny rebelled so much at such a young age that their mother, with the aid of more than one therapist, began to keep him dosed on a steady supply of mood stabilizers.
Jack loved his brother. He hated that Johnny got wild, he hated that his moods swung so bad, but he hated it more when his brother was a zombie.
Maybe Jack just didn't understand the gravity of the situation at all, and maybe he could do better at appreciating what the medicine did for his brother,
but the biggest part of Jack thrilled at Wild Johnny. Wild Johnny had all the heart and all the bravery a nine year old could have.
So what if Johnny called their mother a bitch sometimes? Jack just didn't get it, that was it.
Jack opened his eyes under the water to watch the waves spread out around him. In his mind a wild wave was crashing over the other pool guests. The wild wave didn't harm anyone, of course.
It doused the dry, cooled the hot, and hopefully sobered Jack's mom up a little.
Jack knew his lungs were starting to burn from lack of oxygen. He sprang to the surface with all the force and majesty of a bottle-nosed dolphin.
Jack's second splash must have eliminated half of the world, safely of course.
Jack took in the hot air, thankful that there was enough for everyone, because part of him felt jealous for how much he was using. "Johnny says I'm a waste of oxygen," he thought to himself.
Jack briefly looked for his family but turned back toward the diving board when he didn't see them right away.
Jack climbed the slippery ladder with the grace of a jungle monkey, hooting and hollering as he rose to heights unknown.
Well, Jack knew them, but sometimes he imagined himself jumping from an airplane like his favorite heroes, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He got to the top and again searched out his family.
"Where are they?" Jack didn't see his mom near Hank the Hunk or Bill the Body Builder. She was gone. "Don't cry, Jack, she's just in the bathroom," he imagined Johnny berating him for being a dolt.
"Come on kiddo, there's a line." Jack's favorite life guard, Sally, leaned down and nudged him on. "You got this, kiddo."
"I know." Jack said, blushing a little at her touch. Jack wasn't old enough to know exactly what he liked about women. What eight year old did?
Jack did his best to shake away the thought even though there was obviously some chemistry between the two.
"Kowabunga!" Jack yelled, leaping headfirst in what he thought was a perfect dive. Jack reckoned that his form flawless, but anyone watching Jack shake as he plummeted would have disagreed.
Jack came up for air faster this time and searched out his family because something told him he needed to. He swam to the steps and walked out of the water surrounded by thousands of strangers.
"Okay, maybe not thousands." Jack didn't quite understand what "a thousand" was, but he knew it had to be near a hundred. He went first to the spot his mother told him she would be.
"She's gone." Jack found Hank and Bill, both alone for once. Normally the two musclebound men were enveloped by a flock of older women. "Mom?"
Jack felt silly calling out for his mother, but didn't know what else to do.
His mom had told Jack that under no circumstance was he to talk to strangers, but he felt that this was a time for exceptions.
"I can ask Sally!" The idea surged through Jack like his imaginary tidal waves had surged over half the world. "Sally! Sally!"
"Hey little man, why are you crying?" Jack was crying? He felt his cheeks. He was! Jack couldn't remember the last time he cried. He was strong, he had to be for his mother.
"I can't find my mommy..." Jack couldn't believe the words coming from his mouth. Mommy? He must have been more upset than he realized.
"Do you remember where your mommy parked?" Sally and another, more serious looking man, asked in unison. The pool had already been checked. Jack nodded.
Jack led his crush through the pool, passed the park shelter where his last birthday had been and walked straight to where his mom should have left the car.
It. Wasn't. There.
Jack couldn't understand what he wasn't seeing.
"This is where we parked, I know because of that root there that looks like an old man." Jack pointed to an especially gnarled root.
Jack didn't know when the tears had stopped, or if they had at all, but they were flowing now. "Mommy!"
They found his mother in a ditch almost two hours later. Jack was already safe at his grandparents house by then.
Jack's mom and brother were unharmed, but both were found incapacitated; his mother drunk, his brother drugged.
Jack didn't see his mother again for two weeks and when he did, it was to visit her at a strange hospital devoid of actual sick people.
But the adults, including his now sober mother, told Jack that it was a place for sick people to get better. Jack hoped that was true. He loved his mother and wanted only the best for her.