By Lily Abells, TIWP Student
“You’re such a big baby,” Joe sneered at her from the middle of the pool.
“I am not,” Louisa crossed her arms and looked away. “I just don’t feel like swimming in the same pool as someone gross like you.
Her cousin rolled his eyes. “Whatever. That’s a lame excuse. There’s like a million pools here and you haven’t been in any of them. I bet you can’t even swim.”
“I can! I just—”
“I just!” Joe mocked her voice, several octaves higher than what it really was. “You’re just a wimp, that’s what you are.”
Louisa glared down at him as he laughed, the mocking sound grating on her ears. With a huff, she turned around and marched away.
It’s not like he was wrong. There were dozens of pools at the resort, and she had yet to dip her toes in any of them. The polka dotted swimsuit her mom forced her to buy was still as dry as the day she bought it.
She’d prove him wrong, though. She wasn’t going to just sit there and take that repeated blow to her pride.
She found herself at a gate barring the entrance to what she assumed must be another set of pools. Steeling herself, she ducked under and traipsed down the path. She couldn’t help but grin smugly. She doubted Joe had ever sneaked into a gated pool; who was the wimp now?
The trail led her down to a large pool, enclosed by trees. The water was murky, and the sign was half covered in vines. She didn’t pay it much mind; all the other pools were ridiculously deep, so why should this one be different?
The realization that this was a terrible idea didn’t strike her until she jumped into the air, but by then it was too late. It almost happened in slow motion. First came the thought that hm, shouldn’t this make more of a splash? And then her feet were colliding with the rough base of the six inch pool.
She hissed with pain. Stupid! Why did she do that? She stretched her toes a little and, finding only a few scrapes, began to search for deeper waters. She found a steep drop-off and sighed happily as she relaxed into the warm water. This was perfect. She’d not only proved Joe wrong, but she’d also found a pool that was way more awesome than his. He didn’t have to know she jumped into the shallow end.
“Louisa?” She heard his voice call out from the other end of the path. “Where’d you go?”
“I’m down he… AH!” She broke into a scream that was abruptly cut off as she was dragged down under the water. She struggled fiercely, but whatever had a hole of her feet only clamped down harder. She kicked and yanked, but it was no use. Water flooded her lungs and she felt as though the pool’s depth was limitless. She started to succumb to unconsciousness, when suddenly two hands grabbed her own.
She gasped as she finally broke the surface, gulping in breaths, and it was then that the excruciating pain at the end of her legs hit her. She screamed and sobbed, chest heaving with tears. The person behind her grunted and pulled her up and over the ledge at the side of the pool.
“Louisa! Look at me!” She opened her eyes and found a terrified Joe and a stern lifeguard above her. She tried to speak, but only louder sobs escaped her.
“Quick, we have to get these off her.” The lifeguard spoke, ushering Joe to Louisa’s feet. She looked down and would have screamed if she had the breath for it.
Wrapped around her lower legs, just below the knee, were large, thick vines with thorns resembling teeth digging into her skin. She managed to find it in herself to scream once the lifeguard and Joe managed to pry it off her, revealing the mangled remains of her legs.
“What are these things?!” She heard Joe shriek.
“We imported them for a rainforest themed pool. Turns out they have a taste for people,” came the answer, “We had this area roped off for a reason, she shouldn’t have been down here.”
Louisa could barely feel her legs, and the bandages quickly wrapping around them felt like they were on someone else’s body.
“I called 911, an ambulance is on the way. Stay with her and I’ll head out so they know where to go.” The lifeguard’s footsteps padded away and Joe entered her foggy vision.
“I’m so sorry, Louisa.” Joe grabbed her hand. Louisa dimly realized this was the first time she’d seen her cousin cry. “I shouldn’t have teased you so much, you wouldn’t be down here if it weren’t for me.”
“Joe…?” Louisa’s voice was weak; she could feel consciousness begin to leave her.
“‘m not a wimp…” Louisa grinned, just a bit, and Joe’s stunned expression made it all worth it.