Author’s Note: Mikka in this story is pronounced “Meeka”.
Hi. My name is Kasey Robertson, and my life is food and swimming. For now, let’s focus on ‘swimming’.
I love to swim. I’ve been swimming since I was 2–meaning 16 whole years of going to the public pool every day after school. I used to swim for fun, but at age 14, I quit school to do competitive swimming. My job: do what I love, and win money.
I was about to go train at the pool when my phone started vibrating in my pocket. I sighed, set down my towel, and picked up my phone. Then picked up the call.
I sighed again. “Uh…hi. What, Mikka?”
“I haven’t seen you in so long!”
“Just a year, sister.”
“Exactly. Anywho, let’s have a family vacation! Kinda. Vara Beach, tomorrow at 8 am. You in?”
I groaned. My sister, younger than me by two years, was extremely enthusiastic. Pretty much the opposite of me—I loved to swim, but I didn’t think of life as ‘a playground’ like Mikka did. “No way. Sorry.”
“Yes way!” She exclaimed. “You’re too stubborn. You’re letting swimming take control of your life. Come on! Have fun! The world is your playground!”
“Not at all. Besides, we haven’t been to Vara Beach since we were little. Plus, I have more important things to do.”
“Like what? Train?” I could hear hints of sarcasm leaking into Mikka’s voice. “Come on. You can swim at the beach. Show me those moves!”
“Salt water? No! Coach says that can slow me down.” I nodded to myself. My swim coach was a 60-year-old guy named Chad. He swam at the speed of squirrels being chased by a dog. Chad was wise. Real wise. He knew chocolate was better than gummies, dogs are the best species, and that bread and butter pickles are way better than regular ones.
“That’s cuckoo. It’ll be fun!”
I sighed. Sighed again. Sighed some more. Sighing was fun, going to the beach…not so fun. “Sorry, sister, but no.”
“I can tell your aura looks bland,” Mikka looked like she was grinning, “and you want a BRIGHT aura! I know you like rainbows. We’re doing this!”
So yeah. I gave in. This beach had better be fun….
The sun was shining! The ocean was blue! Laughter was ringing through the air! Sounds great, right? But after the 4 hour drive to Vara beach, I was sore and kinda grumpy when I met up with Mikka.
My sister had black hair tied in a loose side ponytail. She had on a hot pink bathing suit and hot pink goggles. Between the hot pink bracelets, hot pink anklets, and hot pink necklace, it was a hot pink OVERLOAD.
“Mikka!” I ran and hugged her. I loved my sister, eeeeven though she was a bit annoying sometimes. “Hi!”
“I’m glad you came!” She grinned at me. “I can already see your aura getting pinker!”
“Auras are for old ladies,” I nodded solemnly at her. “who knit lumpy sweaters and bake cookies. You’re 16! No aura stuff! Besides, there’s no way my aura is pink. Maybe…blue?”
“You know nothing about auras,” Mikka smiled at me knowingly, “and it shows. Pop quiz! What’s a chakra?”
“A thing in Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
“Ummmm…I guess? But they actually exist. The 7 chakras are often paired with the 7 layers of your aura.”
“This is weird,” I said, “and I’m regretting coming.”
“You’re so grumpy!” She exclaimed. “Lighten up! Be happier! Besides, don’t regret coming. I have a feeling something big is gonna happen!” Mikka did a mini dance, complete with jazz hands. “Anyways…the world is your playground, Kasey! Stop acting like an adult!”
“But I am an adult!” I threw my hands up. “Buh-bye.”
I plopped down my 3 beach bags, because multiple trips are for maniacs (admit it. We’ve all carried an insane amount of stuff because we can’t stand to do the process 2 times). I flung off my dolphin flip-flops and raced towards the ocean.
Ever had a coincidence that was so freakin’ coincidental that it should win the title Most Coincidentally Coincidence Ever? Well, coincidentally, that most-coincidental coincidence happened to me.
The ocean was ice. It had to be 0° Fahrenheit—which teeeechnically wasn’t possible, but apparently, Vara Ocean defied science. As I waded into the sea, I chattered, shivered, and groaned.
Finally, I adjusted—as much as you can adjust to 0° water. I swam around until I was neck-deep, then decided to go Float.
Nope, that wasn’t a typo. Float, capital F. It was a thing Mikka and I did as kids, at Vara Beach—we laid on our bellies and surfed the smooth waves.
Mom let us go fairly far, because I was a super-strong swimmer, even at age 8, and Mikka was pretty good, too. Floating was fun and calming.
Except when the most coincidental coincidences happen.
“This is boring,” I muttered to myself. I got some seawater in my mouth and spent around 5 minutes spitting and gagging. Yuck. I had probably just drunken fish pee, crab pee, and—more ew—human pee.
“Real boring,” I added.
“Boy, is this boring.”
“Why am I talking to myself?”
“I should stop.”
I zipped my lips and Floated for a little while longer. Nothing was happening and I was bored. Okay, Mikka? I said it. For the 3rd time. I was B-O-R-E-D.
I ducked my head underwater and opened my eyes. My goggles protected my eyes from the cloudy, green-blue water that made up the dirty sea. I glanced around. I saw a fish, another fish, and whoopee, 3 more fish.
Nothing exciting is happening! I thought as I raised my head above the water.
Now, this is when the huge coincidence happens.
As I poked my head above the water, a tiny waved ripples into my mouth. “BLECK!” I hollered. *Cue more spitting and gagging*.
Then I heard something: yelling.
More tiny waved splashed me in my face, but I didn’t lose my focus with what I was looking at: a small boy, maybe 6 or 7. I only saw his head. No, his forehead. No, his nose—
I realized that the kid was going under.
He was kicking and screaming, but couldn’t stay afloat. Some small duckie floaties bobbed in the difference. Yeah, real helpful, I thought sarcastically.
Then I remembered I had more important things to do: saving the kid.
I swam over, going faster than I had ever gone before. A cloud moved over the sun as I frantically swam the 10 yards across the choppy ocean to the boy.
I reached him just as his nose disappeared. “NO!” I shouted. “YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DROWN TODAY!” I grabbed him and hauled the boy up.
Just as fast as his body broke the water, it floated back down.
“UGH!” I hollered. “STOP GOING UNDER!”
I dunked my whole body underwater and grabbed the child. I hauled him over my shoulder and kicked to the surface of the salty sea, breathing hard.
The kid tried to clamber out of my grasp. He tried to get to the surface, smacking me in the process. I choked as a foot pressed down on my face.
I couldn’t talk.
I grabbed at nothing, at the surface of the water. My hands clamped around something. I pulled up to the surface then realized the boy was back under.
Everything was happening so fast. I was choking and trying to breathe, but the boy wasn’t breathing at all. What to do, what to do?
I coughed out a mouthful of water and plunged back under. The boy was floating. His body looked timeless as it hung there, suspended in the water. He had stopped moving and I was about to, too.
I grabbed him and channeled all my energy into one goal: breathe. I kicked and kicked and kicked, and after what seemed like a million years, we reached the surface.
I pounded the boys back and I struggled to take in air. After 10 seconds, my breathing was heavy but I was alive. I focused on the kid.
He did respond to anything I tried. A total of 20 seconds had passed since I had last seen him breathe.
Finally, finally, finally, when I was about to give up hope, the kid’s eyes fluttered open. He stuttered and gasped, finally turning on his side in my arms, coughing and hacking. I pounded his back more and finally, his breathing calmed down. “Th…” The kid tried to catch his breath. “Thanks.”
I flashed a smile like us both nearly dying had never happened. “No—” I coughed and smacked my own back with the hand that wasn’t cradling the young boy. “—problem.”
The boy smiled at me. “Who’re you?”
“I’m Kasey,” I said, although I felt like I was in a trance, “and I’m 18.”
My mind was still struggling to process the last minute. I was swimming. A boy was drowning, a hundred yards from the lifeguards who were supposed to keep this stuff from happening. I had tried to save him. He accidentally kicked me under. I nearly died. He nearly died. But…we both lived.
“I’m Jordan. And I’m 6!” He grinned at me and held up his fingers.
I smiled weakly. I wasn’t good with little kids. “That’s a wonderful name, buddy. Now…let’s get back to shore.”
“Don’t say ‘I told you so’,” I groaned.
Mikka thought for a second then burst out, “I TOLD YOU SO!”
“And there it is.”
My little sister bounced up and down on the balls of her feet once I was done explaining the recent events. “Wow! You’re a hero! You saved Jordan’s life!”
“Nearly died doing it, too,” I snorted.
“And if you weren’t here,” Mikka continued. Her face paled. “Well, let’s just be glad you were here. Anyways…”
“I TOLD YOU SO!” She pumped a fist in the air and hugged me. “This was meant to happen! It was destiny! Woooo!” She beamed at me for almost a minute straight before frowning and fanning herself. “Not to be a downer, but boy is it hot.”
I smiled and held up the $50 rewards money Jordan’s parents had kindly gifted to me in a hurry, then pointed to a nearby ice cream truck. “Ice cream?”
“Ice cream,” Mikka confirmed, grinning.
Like usual, Mikka got lemon. I got ‘rainbow surprise’, a tie-dye, sour flavor that made my tongue pucker.
“I’m proud of you.”
I squinted. Mikka’s comment came out of nowhere. “Huh?”
“You know, I’m impressed and happy with your actions today. You saved a boy’s life, so it definitely wasn’t ‘same old, same old’. That’s cool,” she mused. “Real cool.”
I hugged her. “Thanks.”
“The world is your playground!” Mikka exclaimed.
I hesitated. Then, instead of shutting the phrase down like I usually did, I shrugged. “You do you, sister.” We sat in silence for a couple moments, licking our ice cream. I glanced down at the swirling, bright color of the sour dessert. “Mikka?”
“Do you, uh…do you think my aura is rainbow?”
She stared at my ice cream, then studied my face. Finally, her expression melted into a smile, much like my ice cream was melting into a puddle. “Yes, Kasey. Yes it is.”
Author’s Note #2: For everybody who wants to kill me—don’t worry, I’m not actually on Team Bread-and-Butter for pickles. Peace. 😁