The pool lifeguard was named Megan Ridgeway. She attended Mauldin High, a grade above me. She was pretty and outgoing; I was pimply and girl-shy. For these reasons, we never spoke at school, and we didn't talk much during the afternoon swims either, but on weekday mornings, we were the only two there. I'd try, and fail, to look mysterious over there by the pool -- staring at books about goth music while simultaneously not understanding irony.
She and I ended up friends anyway. We never talked about anything serious; it didn't seem like anything serious existed. Instead, we'd joke about which little kid was probably peeing in the pool right now, about how my fumbling in the water barely qualified as swimming, about my terrible music tastes. I made dorky jokes, and she'd laugh.
Really, anything to keep our minds off the tsunami of toddler urine we were floating in.
One Sunday, I noticed her up on the lifeguard stand, talking to a strange guy. He stood out to me at the time because he was all disheveled and wearing jeans in summer. At the pool. But aside from that, it was an ordinary Sunday -- bored housewives, screaming eight-year-olds, dads hoping somebody would notice they'd been working out in the garage.
I headed back to my house for a bit and then returned, plopping into my pool chair six feet from the lifeguard stand. Megan and the guy from earlier were still there, and now seemed to be arguing. Some kids started splashing in the pool, and when I heard two pops, I looked around, annoyed. I thought someone had lit firecrackers. Then I turned around and saw the lifeguard stand.
It wasn't firecrackers.