It was the darkest night I had ever seen, but the air was so clear it made everything feel fake and translucent rather then intimidating. The only light guiding our handlebars was the pricks in the dark velvet blanket that was the sky above our heads. The whole bike ride to the beach was draped in silence; the only sounds were of the crickets and “peepers” filling the night with an orchestra of summer. The only time we spoke was when the leader, Ella as usual, approached a speed bump and yelled back a warning. Finally we got to the beach and lay down our bikes quietly, as any sound could call the hired policeman, Ted, to the scene. Our feet were cut and blistered from weeks of bare feet on pedals and white hot sand, but as soon as walked upon the boardwalk to the pier the pain subsided and we ran. The soft thud of our feet on the black boards was in time with the crash of small waves onto the beach. We looked down into the water, the color of twilight, and thought of being in it and being swallowed into the depths. It was not until we got to the end of pier and we were standing before the diving board that one of us spoke.
“I’m not going in tonight. It’s too cold.” Jocelyn said first, as if off of a script.
“I don’t want to either.” I replied, shivering at the thought of the freezing water on my skin.
“You are all ridiculous. I’m going in, but I’m not jumping.” Genna said, but she made no movement to fulfill her statement.
We all looked over to Ella in anticipation of her comment. But she was already reading the stage directions and had taken off her clothes, and was currently standing before the diving board. Then with a scream full of life and terror and expectation she ran and jumped. Then there was a splash and the water lighted up with the phosphorescents. Then she yelled up at us “Get your butts in here!”
And as if on cue we all quickly shed our clothes and ran to the board just as she had. The water hit your body like a wall, but a relenting wall that enveloped your body with cold and comfort. We were all shrieking at the temperature and the tiny lights about us that signaled thousands and thousands of tiny jellyfish. We swam for our lives out to the dock. Summer had officially started now that we had finally jumped. We all lie on our backs next to each other and let the clear air make us as translucent as the distant houses and boats rocking on the water. Ella looked up into the sky and quietly said, “Do you think that in another galaxy on another planet there are four girls named Ella, Liza, Jocelyn and Genna lying on a raft looking up at the stars and contemplating other universes?”
For a second none of said anything, all thinking about the possibility. Then Jocey said, “No. This is our summer, our dock.” Silence again. “Our memory.”