I was excited. Too excited. When I heard the news, I ran
around in circles until I crashed into the wall. But you can not blame me, because
I, ShootingStar918, a yellow Kacheek, was just barely 3 months old. And I was
going swimming for the first time.
"Star, come on!" my owner called wearily. "I'm
still packing!" I stubbornly replied. Knowing nothing whatsoever about swimming,
I had gotten a giant backpack and tried to shove in it my coloring book, purple
Grarrl doll, and my ball, among other things. My owner rushed in. Sighing, she
turned my bag upside down, dumped out the contents, and deposited it on the
floor. "I swear, you will never learn," she mumbled to herself. Then she smiled,
and dragged me out of the house before I could protest.
After a short walk, we reached our destination.
After hurriedly flinging the ice pack off my bruised head, (and of course hitting
my owner with it), I scrambled excitedly for the pool. Oops. Splash! I had clumsily
slipped in a puddle of water, and fallen into the pool. And I couldn't swim.
I thrashed my limbs about uselessly, only tiring
myself out. I tried to breathe in air, but ended up choking on water. While
hopelessly trying to cough up the liquid, my head went fuzzy because of lack
of air. I felt like my lungs would burst. For a second I burst above the surface.
I tried to call for help, but I could only move my lips soundlessly. And before
I knew it, I was underwater again. For the first time ever, I was scared for
Dimly, I heard a splash above me. Strong arms
grabbed hold of me and pulled me to the surface. I wearily coughed up water
and tried to speak. Thank goodness for lifeguards! My owner looked worried,
but when she saw that I was all right, she started to cough uncontrollably.
I was confused about her sudden outburst… until I realized she was not coughing
at all, but trying to cover up her laughter. Grinning, she pulled something
out from behind her back.
"Want some water wings?"
* * *
"Star," my owner called, 25 months later. "Your
friends are here."
I dashed to the front of our neohome to see
all of my friends wearing green masks and gray snorkels. My friend Summer also
handed me one of each.
"Want to go to the Mystery Island Beach with
us?" they asked simultaneously. My head skipped a beat. Would I? I would love
to! I had never been there.
"Of course!" I grinned joyously at my friends.
"I'll just go get my-"
"She will meet you at the Mystery Island Ferry
in half an hour." My owner interrupted in a harsh voice. My friends just walked
out the door, shooting me concerned looks. I was about to protest this obvious
unfairness when Katie said, "ShootingStar918, you can't swim!"
My stomach plummeted. That was a good point.
I hadn't gone swimming since I was 3 months old. And I didn't have the best
experience then. But, of course, I am as stubborn as a mule (and maybe even
more so), and I would not let this minuscule detail ruin my day.
"Star," my owner said gently, "you need to bring
your water wings."
"Nice joke," I said in an exasperated tone,
"but Kacheeks my age do not exactly run around with water wings." I grabbed
my snorkel, mask, and a towel, stuffed them in a bag. I was out the door before
my owner could blink. Water wings! What in the whole of Neopia was she thinking?
* * *
"Nice towel," Summer commented while we were
on the ferry. I looked down. Oh no! I had hastily grabbed one of my little brother
Viper's Purple Grarrl towels on my way out. Not only did I not know how to swim,
but my towel depicted a toddler's idol. What next?
Standing on the beach, I felt nauseous. I could
drown, or eaten by a Jetsam, or…
I pushed these horrible thoughts out of my head
as best I could, and cautiously took a step towards the water.
"Come on Star!" my friends yelled. They were
already splashing around. I quickly strapped the green mask in my hand on. Upside
"Have you ever snorkeled before?" Summer giggled.
When I shook my head, she ran out of the ocean, fixed my mask, and attached
Mask, snorkel? Check! I thought. Now
how do you swim?
Slowly I climbed into the water, with butterflies
in my stomach. (That's an expression that my owner uses.) I cautiously stuck
my face under the water, and took a deep breath through my snorkel. It's
beautiful underwater! I thought happily to myself. There were patches of
vividly colored coral everywhere. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all!
I spotted a beautiful clump of coral farther
out to sea and decided to try to swim there. What I ended up doing was half-hopping,
half-walking there, but that was good enough for me.
"Hey Star, I'll race you to the bottom!" Summer
"I don't know-" I started. Then Summer pushed
me under, which happens to be her idea of a incredibly funny joke. I barely
had time to gasp for a breath, my eyes as wide as saucers. When she thought
she had pushed me far enough, Summer surfaced, laughing. But I did not. In fact,
I was nowhere to be seen.
I was actually still under the water, being
dragged far out to sea. My head buzzed from lack of air. And no matter how much
I thrashed and struggled, I could not break free of the current sucking me away.
What was going on? I thought hard. I may not be able to swim, but I am good
at thinking on my feet. Then, with a sudden dawn of realization, a thought raced
through my mind: undertow.
I immediately stopped thrashing about. You see,
I learned about undertow in Neoschool about 3 months ago. It is a current that
goes in the opposite direction of the rest of the water. This current can pull
a neopet out to sea. It is practically impossible to break free, unless someone
pulls you out. For the most part, the neopet that is trapped in one must wait
for the current to stop. So that is what I did, praying not to run out of breath.
After what seemed like years, I surfaced, gasping
for air. I tried to swim back to shore, but all I ended up doing was to make
myself look stupid, as usual. I'm going to die! I thought despairingly.
Then I saw the lifeguard swimming towards me with a life preserver. I breathed
a sigh of relief. I love lifeguards! I told myself happily. The strong
Lupe put the life preserver over my head and swam me to shore.
After that I just lay on the sand, dazed but
happy to be alive. Suddenly, Summer ran next to me, giggling furiously. Out
of nowhere, my owner appeared to thrust something in my face.
"Star, you forgot your water wings!"