Chapter 26:



“Okay, NOW here we are!”

Frankie could see more people than water. The pool itself looked pretty, but she was certain what H2O she could see was gross and probably full of little kid’s piss. She didn’t want to step a single toe in it.

“What’s the matter? Don’t you like the suit? You were so picky.”

Frankie sighed, looking down at her cyan one-piece. She felt no one way about it.

“It’s fine.”

“Frankie, you’re driving me crazy here! First you say pick whatever, then you don’t like a single think I pick! And just when I finally find one you say you do like, it’s just… “fine?” And you said that like you were dying! Are you okay?”

“I just wanted to get out of there. I don’t like swimming, just like I don’t like theme parks.”

“That’s not true!” Katie put her hands on her hips. “You were literally in the swim team as a kid!”

“I don’t remember liking it.”

Katie sighed. It was no use.

“Let’s get in the water already! I’m getting hot.”

As much as she didn’t want to, touching the water felt good. Frankie delved in up to her belly, feeling it’s cold embrace down to her bones. When she closed her eyes, she could see herself back in the swim team.

She would go to a local water park every week to compete. She never won, and didn’t have any friends there. But whenever mom or dad asked if she wanted to keep doing it, she always said yes. And there was a part of Frankie that really liked just the simple feeling of the water on her body.

When she did quit, she wasn’t able to give a reason why. But ever since that day, Frankie didn’t swim as much.

“Hey look! Up ahead, there’s room! You can go further if you want!” Katie chimed in, splashing her. Yeah, Frankie thought. I will go forward.

When she blocked out all the people here, it really was quite nice.

The sun blotted out the sky as she floated on her back, and when her ears drifted below the liquid’s surface, she ceased to hear all the noises above. When she shut her eyes, she could, for just for a moment, be in a world all her own.

She imagined what swim club might’ve been like if there were no friends to have or competitions to win in the first place. That would’ve been a dream come true. She probably wouldn’t have ever quit.

Floating further as people parted naturally, she gave just a peek to see that even Katie had shifted away from her. When she shut her eyes again, Frankie even smiled. For the first time in her life, she found herself enjoying an amusement park all on her own.

As her eyes and nose sank under the gentle current of the waves, she thought about mom and dad up in space. If only there was no moon or Earth cluttering up that big, dark expanse. Now that would be a place she could enjoy.

All of a sudden, it felt as if Frankie was in a state of true, undeniable bliss.

The people around her hadn’t just spread out to give her some space. There were no people. She was the only one here, the silent, sinking princess of her own never-ending world.

She swam deeper.

And deeper.

Soon, everything was dark blue. The deeper she swam, the less she felt from the surface above her. As she opened her eyes to see just how beautiful this world of hers was, she was delighted to see that light struggled to even touch the deepest part of the pool she resided in. Within this shadowy land, all she could make out was something like a duct.

She locked her arm around this duct.


Was a most delightful world.

And not a single person was here to interrupt it.

As her throat burned and consciousness faded, Frankie thought of Percy Phytoplankton.

A hand violently wrapped around her chest.