“You know I hate you,” Charlie said as he tried to cross his arms, but his life vest was too large. At the time it seemed like it was a better idea to steal his older brother’s life vest rather than his sister’s which was covered in bedazzled butterflies. He hadn’t expected to fall into the water, and even if he had, he would rather not be floating with such an abomination of a life vest as his sister’s. Still, with his older brother’s life vest pushing up uncomfortably on his neck and making his arms extend out like a bird in flight, he would have preferred a life vest that fit better. It looked like he had four pillows strapped to him, one on the front, one on the back, and one on each of his sides. And Taylor’s look did not make the experience more bearable.
Taylor’s face was red and her lips pursed in a tiny smile in an effort to keep in a laugh. It would occasionally slip out along with a few tears. Her reaction to Charlie falling overboard also kept her from doing the thing Charlie wanted most, getting him in the boat.
“It’s… it’s not that bad!” Taylor cried over muffled giggles.
Charlie stomped his feet, but since there was nothing to stomp, he just flailed in the water. “You’re not the one in the water! It’s cold!”
Taylor rolled her eyes and glanced at the orange rope coiled up in the corner of the boat. Come on! Just grab it! Instead, Taylor continued her conversation with Charlie, “It’s summer!”
“It’s still cold!” Charlie tried his best to swim over to the boat, but he wasn’t the best swimmer and even though the boat was only a few feet away, the infernal life vest was only making things harder. Whenever he tried to tip over to a better swimming position, the life vest would buoy him back up straight and he’d be kicking directionless.
“How’d you get down there anyway?” Taylor teased. She turned her head and looked at her phone, sitting on the captain’s chair. Oh no. She wouldn’t. She couldn’t. Charlie already knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it from her, but if Taylor took a video… his friends would taunt him constantly about it for at least a year.
Charlie flailed and splashed water that only made it to the side of the boat, not on Taylor like he was expecting.
“I was trying to get the fish into the boat which wouldn’t have been a problem if you hadn’t forgotten the net!” Charlie tried a different method of swimming. He wriggled like a worm in the direction of the boat, which made slow progress but was working better than his futile efforts of doggy paddling.
Taylor took in a large breath of air. Apparently, her giggles needed to be replenished. “But you managed to lose the fish, the pole, and yourself. All in the water!” She snorted.
Charlie’s face was hot. “And now the pole and fish are gone, I know!” The fishing pole Charlie used was stolen from his brother too, but he didn’t need to know that it was Charlie’s subpar fishing skills that lost it. No, Charlie would claim a mysterious and unexplainable disappearance. Hm. Maybe he’d have to work on that. His wet life vest would serve as evidence that someone had gone fishing, or at least on the lake, and Charlie’s brother wasn’t dumb. Maybe his sister would work as a plausible scapegoat. What Charlie really wanted to do was pin it on Taylor, but he didn’t see how that was possible. “But you do know you can still get me back in the boat right? Get me back in the boat!”
Taylor once again glanced at the orange rope, but instead, she turned around and grabbed her phone.
“No!” Charlie shrieked.
“Calm down,” Taylor said as she pointed her phone camera at Charlie. “It’s just a picture… and maybe a video too.”
Charlie tried his best to wriggle faster. “Taylor, throw me the rope already!”
Taylor snorted. “I will, I will.”
Taylor did not even look at the rope, much to Charlie’s chagrin. She only kept laughing and videoing Charlie so she could share the embarrassing moment with everyone she knew. Charlie debated trying to take off the life vest in hopes of returning to the boat faster, but because the life vest was so big, he tied it in the most complicated and secure knot he could think of. Which, in other words, was just fumbling around with the straps until the knot he formed looked big enough. He was sure he would be able to untie it later with a little time and patience, but Charlie was lacking both.
Besides, he was merely a foot and a few inches away.
Taylor leaned off the side, making sure to get the best shot of Charlie’s struggles. Charlie tried to reach up to her, but he could still barely move his arms.
Finally, Charlie was able to touch the side of the boat. In a final effort to end his miserable embarrassment, he flung himself at the boat which only moved him a few measly inches, but it was enough. He clawed at gunwale of the boat and was able to barely wrap his fingers around it. Charlie summoned all of his strength and tried to pull himself up, but his weak arm muscles failed him. Charlie cursed and tried again to no avail.
Taylor pointed and laughed, her stomach pressed against the side of the boat. She drew one hand to her mouth to cover her laugh and her other hand held firm to her phone which Charlie was sure was still filming.
A devious idea crept into Charlie’s head. She thought it was so funny that he was struggling, cold, and wet. Maybe she wouldn’t find it so funny if she was too. And her phone? That was just the cherry on top.
Taylor leaned over, all of her body over the side of the boat except her legs. Charlie grinned and used what strength he had to jump at Taylor and pull her into the water with him.
“Agh!” Taylor cried. She looked over to her hand clutching her phone as she fell and threw it toward the boat.
Oh no, Charlie thought, She’ll kill me for sure if she loses it in the water!
Charlie began to panic. He only wanted Taylor’s phone to get wet and spend a week in a bag of rice, not lost in the lake! He held his breath as he watched Taylor’s phone sail through the air.
Thump. It landed safely in the boat, although Charlie couldn’t see exactly where. He breathed a sigh of relief and heard Taylor do the same next to him. He turned and saw Taylor bobbing in the water next to him with mascara running down her face. She looked more comfortable in her life vest, which was her own and fit correctly. Charlie smiled at the sight of her in the water with her makeup messed up and no longer taking any more embarrassing videos of him. Actually, he would have preferred if she were because it would have become an embarrassing video of her too. Oh well.
Revenge had been served and it had been sweet.
Taylor scowled and splashed water at Charlie. “I can’t believe you did that! I had my phone in my hand! Do you realize I could have lost it? That’s expensive!”
Charlie tried his best to look dignified, which was hard while wearing a humiliating torture vest. “But it didn’t, did it?”
Taylor rolled her eyes and easily swam to the side of the boat. She reached up and grabbed the top. Her elbows bent and she grimaced. Taylor wasn’t able to pull herself into the boat!
“Hah!” Charlie stuck his tongue out. Sure, it was a little immature, but neither of them was below it. “You can’t get in.”
Taylor splashed Charlie again. “Newsflash genius, neither can you, which means neither of us can get back into the boat, which means we’ll be swimming back.”
The smile melted off of Charlie’s face. “Oh.”
Suddenly his brilliant plan for revenge didn’t seem so brilliant anymore. At least it would be a while before Taylor could access the video on her phone.
Taylor kicked off the side of the boat. “Yeah, oh. It’s going to take us twenty minutes at least!”
Charlie bit his lip then spit out his words in shame, “Probably more… I can’t really swim in this life vest. You’re going to have to pull me or something.”
Taylor’s jaw hung open and she glanced for the last time at the orange rope in the boat which would have been useful if either of them could get to it. So Taylor would have to drag Charlie back with one arm and use the other to swim.
Now she would get the short end of the stick.
Taylor shivered and Charlie felt a smirk appear for a fleeting moment before he realized he was shivering too. He didn’t want to stay in the lake any longer, especially not with that stupid life vest.
Taylor swam forward and grabbed Charlie’s life vest strap. She met his eyes. Her eyes were colder than the water and lacked all the humor they had before. “Just so you know, I’d rather leave you.”
Charlie nodded, at first feeling intimidated by Taylor’s stern gaze, but the feeling didn’t last. His lips wobbled as he held in a smile. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, he burst into a laugh. Taylor looked back at him with confusion.
“What?” she asked.
Charlie continued laughing.
“Nothing,” Charlie managed, wiping away what was either tears or lake water. “I just realized how funny this is.”
Taylor tried to regain her stern expression, but her lips trembled and her eyes blinked rapidly. “Having to drag you back is… is not funny!” She scrunched her nose then broke, throwing her head back and laughing. “Okay, so it’s a little funny.”
So Charlie and Taylor laughed. They laughed while wet, cold, but not miserable in the lake. And after they had finished laughing, which burnt up more time than Charlie first trying to get in the boat, Taylor lightly punched Charlie’s shoulder.
He couldn’t feel the action, but he smiled at the comradery of it.
“Ready to get going?” Taylor asked.
Charlie shivered. “Absolutely.”
Taylor nodded and began swimming back with a clean breaststroke that would probably get the two of them back quicker than if Charlie tried to doggy paddle without his brother’s enormous life vest.
“Hey Taylor,” Charlie said, looking up at the clear blue sky. He kicked a little, an effort to help, but he was still largely upward so it wasn’t doing much.
“Mm-hmm,” Taylor returned, not even looking back.
“Do you think you could delete that video?”
There was a pause before Taylor gave her answer in a confident tone, “Not a chance.”