Evy was standing in the corner of Ethan’s backyard in the middle of six girls shedding their bikinis, joining in the echoes of slurry shrieking ssssso funny and are we doing thisssok letsgoletsgo. The last cup of sweet red juice had made her head that certain heavy, shrouded her in a layer of protection she’d been aiming for all night, and she said heyyissmystraps, cansomeonedo my untie me? And then she felt the release of her own bikini, and the rise of a wild giggle, the grip of another girl’s hand, her elbow jerking forward, and then she was submerged in the pool, she was nightswimming cold and exposed, only skin and water where usually she felt the stretch of tight fabric.
Her eyes opened under water, trails of cloudy bubbles and the backyard spotlight surrounding the tangle of limbs and skin, then she surfaced and saw every guy (eyes, all wide eyes and fuck yeahs) at the edge of the pool, looking at the girls’ distorted bodies through the water before they all plunged in, flinging their own trunks away like flags of surrender, and her ears cleared out and let in the rise and fall of girlshrieks and chatter and the deep boyvoices crested and fell, and she felt another body next to her then space when it kicked away, and she pushed off and dove under again, while the bodies churned up choppy rising water.
Then a heavy arm was pushing her against the side of the pool, a boy’s body but she couldn’t see his face, then he was hardening against her leg saying come on and pulling her under until her chest burned, yanking her elbow back toward him, and it felt different and dangerous even through her drunk slowed down reflexes, some voice said get away and she dove even farther down under and away her chest about to burst and she climbed out of the pool and stood hunched cold brazen and naked for a full five seconds at the edge, eyes darting to see who that had right up against her behind her pulling her down but it could have been anyone.
She felt the rising wrongness of being here now—NOW, sudden and sharp, slicing through her numb buzz, she felt it in spite of her dulled senses the tiny stones pressing on her feet, the motion sensor spotlight casting her long shadow, the nearness of the voices echoing, knowing that this was all a mistake like it always was, knowing she was not like these people anymore and she had to get away from them because they are not what she needed now or ever.
She grabbed someone’s Elsa towel, someone’s little sister’s favorite she was stealing, and she wrapped it around her midsection and grabbed her clothes, making wet footprints on the carpet inside the house, and no one said to come back in the pool because they were all still churning up water and stuck inside their own chlorine foam cocoons while her own sensedulling turned indifferent, and she was so clumsy and so slow finding buttons and moving her wet fingers over the buckles of her sandals she wanted to sit on the soft bathroom carpet forever instead.
She walked out the front door alone, steered herself straight towards home even though she felt wobbly and weak, one foot in front of the other for a dark lonely mile, a tunnel of bungalows in her peripheral vision blurring together and headlights behind her lighting her way, until the screen door slammed behind her and she fell into bed. She sent a single home and thumbs up to the group an hour later and when she woke up cotton mouthed and spinning, flushed and still wet, no one noticed it.