We were on our way home from Disneyland when our grandmother decided to stay in a small motel on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Nevada. I was four years old and my sister was seven years old.
This particular summer, our teacher grandmother wanted to take us to Disneyland. Of course we were excited but we didn't know exactly what we were excited about. What was Disneyland?
Disneyland was all the dreams we hadn't had yet. This wonderful and magical place embraced us into its fantasies and mysteries; Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Disneyland was children's heaven. Disneyland grasped us like a cone of cotton candy; twirling and whirling, laughter and smiles.
But, like everything else it had to come to an end.
Our grandmother allowed us to leave the motel room to go look at the outdoor swimming pool. My sister and I were standing by the deep side of the pool.
“I want to go swimming.” I told my sister.
“You don't know how to swim.” My sister replied.
“Yes I do. I know how to swim.” I answered.
“Okay, then…SWIM!” She yelled, and shoved me in the back as hard as she could.
Before I understood what just happened, I flew through the air toward the water. My little body splashed into the pool and immediately began to sink, further and deeper, to the bottom; to the deep cold bottom.
The bottom water pushed me to the surface where I began my terrifying struggle to stay above the water. My arms were flailing in a desperate instinctive struggle to stay alive.
Splashing water was furiously engulfing me as I was swallowing the water of the chlorinated pool.
Little cries were escaping my lips and water was filling my mouth. My eyes were moon-sized with fear from the terror I was in; what was happening to me and the reason why.
Flailing and struggling. Gasp. Gurgle. Flailing and struggling. Cry. Gasp. Gurgle. Gasp. Flailing. Sinking…
Like giant arms from the grave, the water began pulling me toward the bottom; to the cold, dark bottom. I was being swallowed into a slow suffocating death. The water devil was winning the fight.
Huge arms grasped me and pulled me to the edge. The arms placed me on the cement next to the pool. Tears spilled from my eyes as I choked out cries, “She pushed me in. She pushed me in!”
“Well, you said you could swim!” She spewed.
The motel manager had just come home from church. When he drove up, he saw me in the pool struggling to swim. He raced to the pool, jumped in, still wearing his good suit, and saved me. His gentle hands pulled me from the foreboding water. Several more minutes, I would have been dead.
I can swim now!
I don't want to drown.
That's what I am afraid of.