A glass of crazy, p.30
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.30

           Tina Laningham
Amid gusty winds, it took two of us to get all three towels laid out on the sand. We got Diva number one set up first and she sat poised on her towel, texting someone, while Rafa and I struggled to get the other two towels spread out evenly.

  Rafa picked up the sun block. "You do me and I'll do you."

  I smeared cream all over his back and then sat on my towel and watched parasailers float over the Gulf of Mexico while Rafa returned the favor. I took a sip from my flask. "That's where I wanted to be," I said, "floating in the sky."

  "Megan, here." Rafa tried to hand her the sun block.

  Megan flipped hair off her shoulder and leaned back. "No thanks," she said. "Someone's coming to do that for me."

  "Ahhhh," Rafa and I said simultaneously.

  "Lemme guess," I said. But then I couldn't think of his name. "Wait, I can see him, the guy with a six-pack tummy and rollercoaster arms." Rafa and Megan stared, waiting for me to produce a name. Finally, it occurred to me. "You never told me his name."

  "You never asked," Megan said bitterly.

  She was right. I hadn't even asked. And just when I was feeling like the worst friend ever, Rafa intervened. "Jax, with an x."

  "Cool name!" I said in my most interested voice.

  "He's very cool," Megan said with a curly smile.

  And right at that moment, Jax with an x appeared.

  "Hey." Obviously Megan wanted to sound only half interested. She held up a tube of sun block and he took it.

  Jax turned Megan over on her tummy and straddled across her butt. I stood up to go walk around and signaled Rafa to get up and go with me. While Jax squeezed sun block in the palm of his hand, Megan reached around and unsnapped her bikini top. Rafa's mouth dropped when Jax started rubbing lotion on her back with his tanned arms glistening in the sun.

  "Dude," I said all aggravated. Rafa's eyes would have popped out from behind those shades if I hadn't pulled him away.

  We zigzagged through a maze of people on the beach until we reached water. The waves felt cool on my feet and I drew in a long breath of salty air. "I love it here," I said to Rafa. Not that we didn't have a beach at home, but here the water seemed bluer and you didn't have to worry about bumping into adults who knew your parents. With the sun warming my face, I took a sip from my flask. "Megan had that guy's number," I said to Rafa and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. "I should've gotten the number of those beer bong boys. What was the name of the guy I liked?"

  "Daniel," Rafa said. "You have his number. You let him put it in your phone last night."

  "I did?" I scrolled through my contacts. Dad, Daniel. "There it is!" We walked along the shore toward a big banner that read, Over the Rainbow Parasailing, with a multi-colored parachute swaying in the wind above.

  "Are you going to call him?" Rafa asked.

  "I dunno," I replied. "Are you going parasailing with me?" Even though his heart wasn't in it, Rafa said he would. He probably didn't want me to run off with Daniel and have no one left to hang out with. "I promise I'll go to the water park with you tomorrow."

  Rafa's big, beautiful smile reappeared.

  We stepped into the harnesses of a tandem parasail and two big, burly guys got the parachute all full of wind. One of the guys waded out and grabbed a line from a boat that was backing in toward the beach. He clipped the line to our parasail and signaled the boat to take off, and within seconds, we were airborne. While Rafa white knuckled the harness, I threw up my arms and let out a cry of freedom.

  We moved out over the Gulf of Mexico and below, in turquoise water, the boat shrank into a miniature toy, until it was nothing more than a speck with a long whitewater tail. At last Rafa loosened his grip and scanned the horizon. It was as if we were actually flying, except for the tug of the harness from the line that connected us to the boat like an umbilical cord. I resented the cord because I wanted to be free from everything on earth, completely free. No more Mom, who wouldn't let me drink or do anything else I'm clearly old enough to do. No more Dad, who was entirely too old to be reliving his teenage years with the Kat creature. No more poverty for sweet, loving families, like Rafa's. I pulled out my flask and took a swallow. The world wasn't fair.

  "Hand me your pocket knife," I shouted to Rafa.


  I took another swig. "I want to cut this stupid umbilical cord so we can be free."

  Rafa peered at me sideways. "You are drunk."

  I punched him in the arm, which made us sway to the side and he tightened his grip on the harness again. I took one more swig and stuffed the flask in my back pocket.

  We began dropping down, closer to the water. The guys on the boat were reeling us in, like fish on a line. That's all we were to them, just two fish on a line that they were reeling in. It wasn't fair, but really life wasn't fair. I was getting woozy.

  "The ride is almost over," Rafa announced, as if he'd just figured that out.

  "Why is it only a ten minute ride? Why can't we stay here all day if we want?" Rafa was right. I sounded drunk. I reached for my flask and pulled, but the flask slipped through my fingers and fell through the air to the water below. I pulled out my phone and Mom's credit card, and handed them to Rafa.

  "What are you doing?" Rafa asked.

  I unclipped the harness and pulled my legs out as fast as I could and jumped.

  "Stop! No!"Rafa's voice trailed off.

  Gravity had snatched my flask and I wanted it back. The fabulous feeling of free-falling ended too soon when I made the splash. The deeper I sank, the darker the water became and the colder it felt. I wasn't about to close my eyes. Not that I could see anything. Finally, I slowed enough to start making my way back up and paddled toward the light. I burst through the surface and blew out all the air I'd been holding underwater.

  I treaded water, looking around, breathing hard. No flask in sight. Swells blocked my view. I dropped underwater and catapulted straight up to see over the swells. Still, no flask.

  Duh! I had jumped after the flask fell, which meant it would have hit the water way behind me. To get my bearings, I located land, which was on my right. I needed to face land and swim to the right.

  I swam a good distance, but still no flask. Surely it would float since nearly all of the vodka was gone and it had mostly air inside. Ohmygod, double duh, the current would have carried it closer to shore. I watched the swells. They moved at an angle toward land. I swam in that direction and looked around for something shiny-a beautiful metallic container for transporting a magical serum that made me feel normal.

  Just when the idea flashed in my mind that it was entirely possible I may never find the flask, something had found me. It was a fin. A big, triangular fin. And it was moving toward me. My heart raced. Even though I'd been treading water naturally, now it was something I had to focus on. My breath was short and my muscles tensed. Oh, God. I was actually going to die. There were times in my life I didn't care if that happened, but this was not one of them.

  No point in swimming; sharks swim. I could catapult into the air again, or kick the shark, or dodge off to the side just before it attacks. When I visualized jumping or kicking, I saw the shark chomping down on my leg. Only one thing to do: I had to dodge it.

  The shark was moving in, thirty more feet. I tightened my muscles to dodge its strike. Was it slowing down? It turned. It actually turned off to the left. I felt myself breathe again. Holy crap, it moved around me, circling. Oh God, circling its prey. Something banged the back of my head and splashed. I screamed like a girl.

  "Grab the life preserver," a man's voice yelled out.

  When I turned around, a bright orange thing bumped my face. A boat with Over the Rainbow Parasailing written on the side rocked back and forth in the swells. Not the same boat that was pulling us, a smaller one. I wrapped my arms over the orange donut and the man pulled me in. Suddenly, I was glad to have a cord connecting me to someone. That's when the fin came back into view.

  "Shark," I said to the man. "Look, shark."
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  "That's a dolphin," he said, and pulled me up to the boat.

  I climbed over and looked out at the dolphin. My whole body relaxed. "From up here, it looks like a dolphin, but when you're at eye level and all you see is that fin, it looks like a shark."

  "Grab a towel," he said. "Let's get you to shore."

  Captain Bob, at least that's what it said on his shirt, pushed the throttle forward and hauled ass back to the parasailing place where Rafa and I had launched. Rafa was there, with that same worried look on his face his mother gets when she sees my mother. Kind of funny, but weird. I climbed out of the boat and another guy came over. This was Captain Ray, according to his shirt.

  "This young man over here says you jumped." His mouth twisted. "Is that right?"

  "Yes, sir," I said and saluted him, being a captain and all.

  He squinted and said, "Don't ever come back here again."

  "Yes, sir!" I saluted again and headed toward Rafa, trying hard to not bust out laughing.

  As soon as I got within earshot of Rafa, I said, "I'm expelled from parasailing." He started going off on me in Spanish. "Dude, you ratted me out," I interjected, but he went on and on, all the way back to where we'd set up camp on the beach. Megan and Jax were baking in the sun when we got back. Fortunately, Rafa had calmed down by then.

  Megan shaded her eyes. "Where have y'all been?" They both rolled over on their tummies and looked up.

  "Parasailing," I said.

  Rafa crossed his arms and didn't say anything.

  "Oh, sick!" Jax propped himself up on his elbows.

  Megan propped herself up, too. "How was it?"

  "Insane!" I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. "We killed it!"

  "Let me translate," Rafa said sarcastically. "Abby went insane and almost killed herself jumping out of the parachute."

  "How high were you?" Megan asked.

  "At least three hundred feet," said Rafa the rat.

  "I dropped my flask," I explained.

  "Oh!" Jax beamed. "You are totally badass."

  I smiled. It warmed my heart that I had just been promoted to the highest rank possible. It's way higher than captain of some lame parasailing boat. Ghetto Girl was once the ultimate BA. Maybe I wasn't faking it when I was Ghetto Girl. It could be that all that coolness was real. And just when I started feeling good about myself for the first time in my life, Rafa said, "I don't want to be around you when you are drinking." He picked up his towel and pushed off through the sand.

  I didn't argue with Rafa, or chase him down and try to change his mind. A BA does not make an enemy of a friend, does not fight with a friend, and is always true to herself. Rafa needed time to cool off. I decided to sit my badass self down and let him. People don't realize it, but the title of BA carries with it huge responsibilities. Now that I had a clear picture of who I was, I needed to live by the code.

  Megan and Jax got up and brushed sand off each other while I stretched and yawned in the warm sun.

  "We're going out in the waves," Megan said.

  "Wanna go?" Jax asked.

  "I'm good, thanks." A BA is polite and kind to others who are kind.

  "Cool," Jax said and escorted Megan toward the shore.

  Megan glanced over her shoulder at me. By the look on her face, she seemed genuinely happy that Jax had respected her besty. I stretched out on my tummy and buried my forehead in the fold of my arm. Life was good.

  - 31 -

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