His body arched, his tanned stomach barely clearing the white rim of the pool. He broke through the surface, setting off ripples that made my pink floatie bob. Little droplets clung to the edges of his dark brown hair, sparkling in the sunlight. He walked through the water and leaned over the edge, dipping the plastic rim in a dangerous v. He rummaged through the cooler and tossed me a can. It froze my hand, the round base like ice. I cracked it open, slurping up the liquid that bubbled out. He leapt backward onto his floatie, his arm extended in the air to shield his drink from the splash. I rotated in the water and listened to the ebbing squeaks as he settled in.

I sighed as though it was the last breath I would ever take. “What am I gonna do?” My floatie turned so I was facing him again. I dropped my foot in the water to anchor myself.

He shook his head. “See this circle?” He moved his arm around the pool, his aluminum can catching the sunlight and reflecting it in sharp white glares. “This is Paradise and everything is just right in Paradise.” He looked at me, held my eyes so I would know he was serious.

I brought my leg out of the water and leaned my head back. Yellow rays crashed through the lenses of my sunglasses creating rainbows of light. The sky was diamond blue, so flawless I wanted to cry. Perfection felt unfair. Options marched through my mind, and I guzzled the bubbly liquid to drown my thoughts. I wanted to tell him he could claim Paradise because his life was peachy. That if he was in my shoes Paradise would feel like an insult. But I knew that wasn’t fair. Our luck took turns; he was on the upside now, but that wouldn’t last forever. I didn’t need to remind him of that.

I bumped against the side and held out a hand to hold myself steady. The rubber radiated heat, it swirled around my arm like an embrace. Emerald green shimmered in my vision, and I blinked. A hummingbird flitted over the pool, its body glowing in the bright light. I remembered how he believed they were a good omen, but his back was to me. I held my breath watching the blur of its wings, wondering what it was doing here. I told myself if it dipped closer it was a sign, and I would quit tomorrow. But it remained where it was, suspended in midair. My gaze was glued to its glittery body until I heard a squeal and water splashed over me. The bird dashed away as my friend overturned my floatie, and my eyes clouded with Paradise water that burned.


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