This spring, I took a writing class offered through Write Around Portland. It was called “Prompt” because each week we would meet and write for a limited amount of time–usually 2-8 minutes–to a number of different prompts. As the school year grinds to a start and I have less time to write, I will be featuring excerpts from my writing class in lieu of the weekly essay. Here’s the first one. The prompt was, “Come on in.”
“Come on in,” my boyfriend called to me from the middle of the river. He’d gotten himself there by jumping off the bridge above him, the bridge that I sat on the edge of, my legs dangling above the water. My eyes narrowed. I knew his offer was a challenge more than an invitation. He didn’t think I would do it.
Of late, our relationship had changed. I sensed he was bored with me and I suspected his head had been turned by someone else. We were clearly headed toward “over” but the asshole hadn’t actually taken time to break up with me. Instead, he was mostly unavailable. This river outing was the first I’d seen of him in a week. When we did get together he found ways to imply I didn’t measure up to whatever I had been before. It was ridiculous that I didn’t end things myself, but his cowardice just made me more stubborn. I wasn’t going to break up with him if he wasn’t going to break up with me.
I looked down at the water. This was a stupid challenge, or not much of a challenge at all. I was a duck in the water, a seal, a sea otter. I felt more comfortable in rivers, lakes and pools than I did on land. And the jump itself wasn’t very high, no higher than the diving board I’d mastered by age twelve. The water was deep and calm below me.
“It’s no big deal.” he called, goading me on. He had jumped feet first, flailing a bit on the way down. I could do better than that. I stood up and turned, placing my back to him.
“If you aren’t going to jump, you can come in from the bank,” he called to me.
I rolled my eyes and launched myself backward, my feet flipping over my head as I spun in the air. I brought my body into a perfect line and slid into the water, barely making a ripple.
I could do better than this.