Hands were grabbing at me, pulling at my legs and arms and lifting me up off the ground. I tried to fight them off, my panic quickly rising. Despite my efforts, my body was swung backwards. I started to scream “Nooo!” but my scream died in my throat as I suddenly went airborne. I held my breath as I crashed into the frigid dark water. In shock, I sank deeper and deeper.
Finally fighting off the panic, I started thrashing around to stop my descent and then I began working my way back up. When I finally surfaced, I gulped desperately for air but ended up swallowing a mouthful of lake water instead. I started hyperventilating. I knew how to swim but I couldn’t seem to think straight.
“Someone help her!” I heard my friend Laura shouting angrily from the dock.
Laughter. From the boys who had just thrown me in the lake. Including my so-called boyfriend, Mike. We had just started hanging out a few weeks ago.
“Hey, grab onto me.” A really cute guy with brilliant blue eyes suddenly appeared in front of me. Treading water, he smiled and turned so that I could put my arms around him. He was confident in the water, unlike me.
I did as he instructed and held on tightly as he swam back to the shore with me.
Mike was waiting there. “Hey, no hard feelings. I was just trying to have some fun.” He put his arms out for a hug. I growled and pushed him away.
“I don’t think she had much fun, dude.” the cute guy who had just saved me spoke up.
Mike just shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. The cute guy shook his head and turned back to me. “Are you ok?” he asked with a concerned look.
“Yeah.” I reassured him, still shaking and shivering and trying to get my breathing under control again.
“Yeah?" He nodded and smiled. “Hey, my name’s Hal.” He held his hand out for me to shake. He was wearing blue swim trunks. He was tall and skinny and had white blond cropped hair.
I took his hand and shook it as I continued to stare into his eyes. “Thanks.” I looked down and kicked at the dirt self-consciously. “I tend to freak out a bit in deep water.” I admitted.
Mike piped in again. "I tried to tell you it’s all in your head! I was just trying to help you get over it.” His friends all snickered.
That did it. Furious, I turned to Mike. I felt like one of those cartoon characters that has steam coming out of their ears when they get mad. “Throwing me in the lake is not what I’d call helping!” I yelled. I punched his arm as hard as I could, which really wasn’t very hard at all, and my hand just hurt from the effort. “Ugghh!” I shook my hand out. “We’re officially over. Asshole!”
Everyone around us was staring. I hated being the center of attention. I turned and stormed off, my soaking wet Keds squishing loudly with each step. My friend Laura tried to follow but I pushed her away. I felt like fuming alone.
“Hey! Wait up!” Hal called out, chasing after me. “I didn’t get your name!”
“Oh!” I stopped, my anger melting a bit. I turned to Hal and managed a smile, “Sorry, I’m Liz.”
“Nice to meet you Liz.” Hal said cheerfully. “If it’s any consolation, I agree with you.”
“About what?” I asked, confused.
“About that guy being an asshole!” Hal swore a bit awkwardly, as if he wasn’t used to it.
I laughed. Swearing came much too easily for me. “Yeah, but he’ll get what’s coming to him.” I said confidently, nodding my head.
Hal tilted his head. “Are you going to get even with him? Get your friends to toss him in the lake when he least expects it?”
“No!” I laughed again, and then thought about Hal’s idea. “Although that does sound fun!” But I shook my head. “You know, karma? What goes around comes around?” I looked expectantly at Hal, hoping he would agree with me. Not many people in my social circles believed in Karma like I did.
“Well…” Hal looked thoughtful before he replied. “I think it’s just better to forgive and forget. Jesus will be the one to judge us all someday.”
“Right…” I agreed halfheartedly, I had been raised to believe the same as Hal. But I liked the idea of Karma. Natural consequences to choices. If you do good things, then good things will happen to you. If you do bad things, then bad things will happen to you. Sooner or later.
“You look cold!” Hal held a towel out for me. “Here.”
“Thanks.” I took the towel and started with my hair. I had been fully clothed in shorts, a t-shirt and of course my Keds when Mike had thrown me in the lake.
“Maybe we should sit in the sun for a while to warm up.” Hal suggested.
I shrugged. I could probably hang out with him for a bit longer. I sat down next to him and took my wet shoes off.
Hal stretched out and accidentally, on purpose, brushed his leg against mine. “Oops! Sorry!” he said with a big grin.
My heart raced at his flirtatious contact. This cute guy who had just saved my life was now totally hitting on me! He was getting cuter and cuter by the minute!
We sat and talked for a while. It turned out that Hal was a year older than me, 16 years old, and he lived in Canyon Country, not too far from where I lived in Valencia. Of course we went to totally different high schools. But thank goodness we were both Mormons! We never would have met if we hadn’t both been attending this year’s Mormon youth conference at the lake. We had to attend the required religious classes every day of course, but there was also plenty of fun to be had too. Like at the lake today. Last summer we had all gone to Los Angeles and stayed in the dorms at UCLA for a week. That had been a lot of fun.
The more I sat and talked with Hal, looking into his beautiful blue eyes, the more I thought that this year might just be the best youth conference ever. Despite just getting thrown in the lake. Actually, now that I thought about it, getting thrown in the lake was turning out to be a good thing, since it led to meeting Hal.
“Isn’t this the perfect summer day?” Hal asked, looking around. He closed his eyes and smiled.
It was sunny and warm with just a light breeze blowing. The sky was a deep sapphire blue and there were just a few puffy clouds on the horizon. The calm lake reflected the blue of the sky. And in the background the mountains were a dazzling mix of green hues all blended together.
“It’s so perfect," I said, "it almost looks like a painting.”
Hal opened his eyes and nodded. He turned to me, “So what happened earlier? When you got thrown in the lake?” he finally asked me, now that I had calmed down. “You were really freaking out.”
“I can’t explain it…” I admitted. “I’ve always been afraid of deep water. I tend to hyperventilate every time I try to get in.”
“Really?” Hal asked curiously. “Did you have a bad experience once? I mean before today!" he added.
“No, not that I can remember.” I looked out at the lake and thought about it. “My grandma used to try to force me into the water when I was just a baby but I remember being scared to death, kicking and screaming and crying whenever she tried to make me get in.” I paused, wondering if I should admit my fears to Hal. I looked over at him again. He seemed genuinely interested. “I think the fish are scary and gross and I don’t want them to touch me!” I blurted.
Hal chuckled. “You know,” he grinned at me, “the fish are more afraid of you than you are of them.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” I grinned back. It was nothing I hadn’t heard before from others trying to be helpful. “I love swimming in pools.” I told him. “I’ve taken swimming and diving lessons since I was just a little kid.” I geared up to deliver my crafty one liner, “I might not like the fish in the lake, but I’m like a fish in a swimming pool.”
Hal laughed. “We’ll have to find you a swimming pool then.” He grinned at me again.
Oh boy, that grin was too much! I couldn’t help but grin right back at him. I silently congratulated myself for being clever. I really wanted to impress this cute guy.
Hal lay back, folded his arms up behind his head, closed his eyes and sighed. “The sun feels great!”
I copied him. “Yes it does.” I agreed.
A few minutes passed as we just simply lay there sun bathing in silence together.
“Hey!” Hal sat up and looked at me, “Let's take a walk!”
“Oh,” My heart raced at the idea. “Ok, sure.” I put my semi dry shoes back on.
Hal jumped up and held his hand out to me. I took his hand but instead of letting go of my hand once I was up, he locked his pinkie finger with my pinkie finger, and grinned, somewhat shyly this time. I grinned right back at him. We started walking, our arms swinging together in rhythm as we went, pinkie in pinkie.
We walked for a while, chatting about the youth conference, taking turns peaking shyly at one other. I couldn’t believe my luck! I was practically holding hands with Hal already! When we came upon a little grassy wooded area, Hal let go of my pinkie and plopped down in the grass under a tree. I sat next to him.
“So tell me everything I need to know about you!” he said.
“Ummm,” I thought about it and then started listing things off, “I’m a sophomore in high school, I like the color blue and my favorite foods are pizza and ice cream and I like to draw and I like to read.” I took a breath. “And I’m an only child!”
Hal laughed. “Well, I have two brothers and one sister and I’m a junior, I like the color green and Mexican food. And I like ice cream too!” he smiled. “And I love to play basketball and I’m on my way to becoming a computer genius.” he added proudly.
“Cool. What can you do on a computer?” Computers were a relatively new thing in my world. My parents were always the last to get the latest and greatest inventions like VCRs and Microwaves.
“Well, I can write programs and I can take a computer apart and then put it all back together again and I can upgrade a regular old computer to a super computer that will do almost anything you want it to do!” Hal said.
“Wow! That’s impressive. My parents just got a computer but I haven’t used it much yet.”
“So what do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked me.
“Well, I kind of want to be an artist.” I admitted. “All I’ve done so far is draw with pencil but I’m getting really good at it.”
“What do you like to draw?” he asked.
“People, mostly faces.”
“Interesting…” Hal nodded and then asked, “Why people?”
I thought about it. “Well, I guess it’s the eyes. I love drawing eyes.” I looked into Hals eyes again then. His eyes really were beautiful; I would have to draw him for sure. “It’s like you can see the soul through the eyes.” I thought maybe Hal had a beautiful soul. We studied each others eyes but the moment got to be a bit too intimate for me so I laughed nervously and changed the subject. “Anyway, my favorite artist is M.C. Escher. I love the detail that he brings to his drawings.”
“Oh yeah!” Hal nodded in agreement. “He’s that guy who drew the hands drawing themselves on the page of a drawing in the drawing.”
I laughed at his description. “Yeah, that’s him. My favorite drawing of his is the one of the lizards being drawn on the piece of paper that are coming to life and leaving the drawing to parade around the desktop.”
“Yeah, that's a good one.” Hal agreed.
“I want to be just like him, but with people as my subjects.”
“Sounds awesome. I can’t wait to see your drawings!” Hal nudged me playfully again.
I couldn’t wait to show him. “I’d love to be a famous artist someday!” I said daydreaming about it. “Have gallery shows and make enough money to have a house right on a beach somewhere.”
“You want to live near the ocean?" Hal asked. "I thought you were afraid of the ocean?"
“Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know. I don’t want to actually get in the ocean but I sure do love looking at it. My great grandmother is pure Hawaiian and my grandmother is half Hawaiian and so my mom is like a quarter Hawaiian or something like that. I think that's where I get it from.”
“So you’re part Hawaiian, huh?” Hal studied me. “But you have blond hair!”
“I know! I don’t look it, my great grandpa was from Switzerland and then my grandpa was from Ireland and my dad’s family was all English. But yeah, I have that little bit of Hawaiian in my blood thanks to my great grandma.”
“That’s cool. Have you ever met your great grandma?”
“No, she still lives in Hawaii and my mom doesn’t talk about her much. I guess she still believes in the old Hawaiian ways, their gods and stuff.”
"Oh." Hal frowned at that. “My great grandparents were from Austria but they moved to America when they first got married.”
“Oh, Austria, huh? That’s cool.”
We sat in a comfortable silence again then, just looking out at the lake.
Hal started playing nervously with a stick he found lying next to him. Finally he blurted out, “I’m really glad I got to meet you.”
“Me too.” I admitted, and feeling shy, I had to look away.
Hal playfully nudged my shoulder with his shoulder. “I hope you’re not just trying to make that other guy jealous by hanging out with me.” He teased, still with that big grin on his face.
“Nope!” I smiled and nudged him back.
“Good!” Hal said, grinning even wider. "So, what else do I need to know about you?” he rubbed his chin. “Are you ticklish?”
“No!” I shook my head. Actually, I was very ticklish but I couldn’t let him know that! Being tickled was torture!
“Are you sure?” Hal asked, narrowing his eyes and giving me a sideways stare. He had a very mischievous look.
“Absolutely! I swear it.” I insisted, staring him down, hoping that he would drop the subject and move on.
“Let’s see, then, what else, what else?” Hal seemed to give up, changing the subject.
I relaxed a little, thinking I was safe. but then he surprised me by quickly turning on me, grabbing me by my waist and tickling me ruthlessly in just the right spots, making me laugh hysterically. We rolled around on the grass.
“Stop! That!” I managed to get out in between laughs.
Hal was laughing too. “Not ticklish, huh?” he teased me.
“Ok, fine!” I panted, out of breath from laughing so hard. Hal still held me in his arms. “I am ticklish! Are you happy?” His face was so close to mine. I could see every speck of blue in his eyes. It was kind of hard to get my breathing back under control with him so close.
“Your hair is really beautiful,” Hal said softly as he ran his fingers through my hair.
“Oh, thanks.” I blushed deeply at both the compliment and at the feel of his hands running through my hair. I was blessed with beautiful, thick, straight, long hair. It was a nice dark blonde color that easily got streaks of lighter blond from the sun. My hair was my favorite thing about myself.
“What about you?” I asked Hal. I gave him the same mischievous look he had just given me moments ago. “Are you ticklish?”
“Nope. Not at all.” Hal replied with a little half smile.
I doubted that and decided to test him too. I grabbed him and tried to tickle him.
Hal laughed, but not because he was ticklish. “Told ya!” he grinned at me in triumph.
“Oh sure!” I pouted. “That’s not fair!”
“How’s this for fair then?” Hal leaned in and before I realized what was happening he kissed me on the lips.
My eyes popped wide open in surprise. That was my first kiss! I just had my first kiss! And it was really quite nice! I blushed fiercely again. “That’s pretty fair, I suppose…” I admitted. “I guess I might be able to forgive you…”
“Yeah?” Hal was grinning from ear to ear again. “Well maybe one more kiss will seal the deal…”
I nodded in agreement, desperately wanting to feel his lips on mine again.
He leaned in again, more slowly this time, watching my reaction as he kissed me. And this time he lingered, kissing me over and over again. “I definitely want to be completely forgiven.” he mumbled between kisses.
We rolled around in the grass kissing for what felt like hours.
By the time we decided to head back to the lake, I was so overcome with newfound passion for Hal that I could barely keep my balance. Luckily Hal held my hand and that helped steady me.
If you enjoyed this cut scene from Naupaka Blooming you should read the rest of the story!
I'll share another cut scene next week... The Car Crash
I'm a romantic at heart with an overactive creative mind and an artistic soul. I've always been an avid reader - I read as much as I can as often as I can! Writing has been a life long dream that I haven't allowed myself to pursue until just recently. In April I finally published my first novel - Naupaka Blooming, a Hawaiian Reincarnation Romance. And now I'm working on the first book in a new fantasy thriller series called Summer's Shadow.