One.

Two.

Three.

He bent his knees and launched himself backwards into the air, his arms moving close to his chest and his body twisting, feeling the eyes of the crowd trained on him as he soared for those crucial milliseconds. He knew his coach—his father—wasn’t watching him, more anxious than he was for this final dive to go well. It had to go well.

With his legs squeezed together and body fully stretched, he completed the three twists with no problem. As he approached the 5-meter point, he knew he was supposed to move into the pike, where his torso would bend over his straightened legs to finish out the half twist. But he felt his rotation was off as his arms hugged his legs, and he fought his momentum to correct it. That only caused him to over-rotate, turning one-and-a-half times in the pike, and the surface of the water verged upon him before he could move into entry position.

He hit the water painfully with his body bent at a right angle, and a roar of frustration and fury echoed in the arena before he was consumed.

The water rushed into his ears, deafening him to the gasps and murmurs the spectators had to be making about him. He drifted under the water, sinking almost, as he did nothing to rise to the surface. He didn’t want to. He visualized all his hard work—his training, his injuries, his abandonment of a social life, all of the things that would have made a success tonight worth it—falling from the platform he'd just dove from and into the pool, dispersing, dissolving, as if they'd never happened. He didn't feel like reentering his reality, where he'd find disgustingly low scores and pitying scrutiny and his father's disappointment that he wouldn't qualify for the global sports competition that they'd dedicated the better parts of their lives to.

So he remained submerged for the moment, pretending he hadn't wasted his life on only a dream.

boy, water, and indie image
K.G.