This is a work of fiction.
Unfortunately, swimming didn’t last long.
We’d all been enjoying ourselves for about fifteen minutes, when two boys about Curly’s age entered the pool area. Behind them, there was a blonde woman whom I took to be their mom.
Freckles was climbing up onto the diving board, and I was as close as I could safely get.
“Hi,” the blonde woman said from the edge of the pool. “Is that your kid?” She pointed to Freckles.
“Yes, that’s my grandson.”
“Yeah, okay. Tell him he can have one last dive, and then it’s my boys’ turn.” She gestured at the two teenagers, who were starting to look grumpy. “Tell him to hurry up. My boys don’t like to wait.”
“Can we share?” I asked, not liking how she was acting, but not wanting to get into a fight.
“Pardon me?” she said, as if I were speaking another language.
“Could Freckles and your boys share the diving board?”
“It’s not nice to call a child by his facial features.”
“Grandma,” Freckles said, “look at me!”
His dive was beautiful.
I heard laughter and looked around. The two teenage boys appeared to be having identical laughing fits, but something about it seemed staged.
“Good thing the lifeguard’s watching,” their mom said. “That was the worst dive I’ve ever seen.”
Curly said, “What are you talking about? My bro’s the best.”
She smiled sickly-sweetly at him and said, “If you only ever see bad stuff, you start to believe it’s good stuff.”
I opened my mouth to give her a piece of my mind, and one of her boys said, “Hey kid. Look over here. I’m talking to you.”
Freckles was at the edge of the pool and looked at the boy.
“Who taught you how to dive?”
Freckles smiled uncertainly, and I wondered how much of their mother’s comments he’d overheard.
“Well, he didn’t do you any favors.”
Both boys burst out laughing, for real this time, and the one who’d spoken walked right by Freckles and toward the diving board.
Freckles looked confused and then started to cry.
“What a whiny little brat,” the boys’ mom said. “Sounds like he’s never been exposed to any kind of reality.”
Curly looked ready to fight.
Sammy was at the opposite end of the pool and hadn’t heard the conversation.
Lydia was in the shallow end, and she glanced over at me every now and then, but she seemed to be comfortable in the water.
The boy jumped clumsily off the board. His brother cheered.
“Now,” his mom said, “that’s a real dive.”
She stuck out her tongue at Freckles.
The boy climbed out of the pool and was met by Jake, who wasn’t smiling.
“You didn’t swim your laps,” he said.
“Who are you?” the boy said.
“A lifeguard. Before you’re allowed to—”
“Simon did them yesterday,” his mom said. “So did Roger.” She indicated her other son, who nodded vigorously.
“Grandma, can we go now?” Freckles said.
We went back to our rooms.
Curly waited until we were inside before he said, “That lady was so mean. I’m sure her kids’ll get bored really fast and we can go back.”
“I agree,” I said. “I’d like to watch you dive some more.”
Freckles shook his head.
“I heard her,” he said. “I thought that boy was gonna say I was doing okay, but . . . I guess I wasn’t.”
“They were just rich jerks,” Sammy said.
“Yeah,” Curly said. “I bet she doesn’t even know how to swim.”
“I’m not sure about rich,” I said, “but she definitely was a jerk.”
Everyone stared at me in shock, and then Freckles burst out laughing.
Curly said, “I’ll go in a few minutes and see if they’re still there. I’ll radio Grandma if the coast is clear.”
Curly went three times.
The first time, their mother was gone, but the boys were there, sitting in the hot tub.
The second time, their mother was there talking on her phone, and Roger and Simon were teasing a girl who looked about seven. Curly went and told Jake, then he came back to our room.
The third time was the charm. The boys and their mother were all gone.
As Freckles made another one of his elegant dives, Curly said, “I heard somebody say security had to drag them out.”
“Drag who out of where?”
“Those boys and their mother. She pepper-sprayed Jake.”
“What? Pepper-sprayed him?”
“That’s what I heard, anyway. What kind of a crappy place is this? I wanna go home.”
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