She snickered as I gasped for breath. Fuck, this water was cold. Cold enough to flash-freeze my boiling indignation and sense of pride into sharp icy knives that pierced my muscles and my lungs. It felt like my spine was curling backward, like a gecko’s tail, and there she was, snickering.
I grabbed the ladder and pulled myself up onto the dock. My numb feet made bad contact with the top rung, which sent me reeling face-first onto the wooden planks. This really got her going. I flipped myself over, panting, and tried to stop myself from shivering.
“W-w-wasn’t that b-bad.”
She roared, doubled-over, her short blonde hair whipping in the wind. She hugged her slender frame, pulling the sleeves of her light yellow pullover down over her exposed hands. It took her a few moments to compose herself enough to speak. “You. Dumbass.”
“N-no, it was ref-f-freshing. I might d-do it again.”
“You were flopping around like a drowning moose!”
“I was n-not.”
“You’re going to get hypothermia and die. Boys are so stupid.”
“Gimme your sweater, then.”
“No, it won’t fit you. You’ll stretch it out.” She peered at me as she lifted herself up onto her tiptoes, trying to walk across the dock like a ballerina in sneakers. “Your lips are kinda blue.”
And just like that she was kissing me. It happened so fast that by the time I realized what was going on she was already pulling away.
“My name’s Hannah,” she said.
I knew there was something I was supposed to say back, but for the life of me I couldn’t recall what it was. Between the shock of the cold water and the shock of the warm kiss my brain wasn’t functioning correctly. All I could do was stare gape-mouthed, dripping and shivering and half naked on the edge of the lake.
She smiled back over her shoulder at me as she walked away, up the dock. A few strands of hair blew into her eyes and got stuck in the lashes. It wasn’t until she was nearly out of earshot that I remembered what to say.
She glanced back at me again and waved goodbye. Or was she beckoning me to follow?
I bent over to pick up my clothes, left in a rumpled pile on the edge of the dock, and dressed as quickly as I could. My shirt stuck to my wet skin as I pulled it on. I nearly fell over jumping up and down to get my jeans up over my damp legs. By the time I got my shoes on and looked back up, she was gone.
I saw her countless times after that, but only when I closed my eyes.