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Scuba Girl

Allison Marbry is a freshman currently studying at Truman State University, pursuing degrees in English and Computer Science. In her free time, she enjoys working on other writing projects, drawing from life, and contemplating the vast unknown of the future in horror. You can contact her on Twitter @themarbb.

Four days before it happened, she came into class wearing one of those fish-bowl helmets they had on diver suits. The glass globe crushed her shoulders, and if she craned her head too far in any direction, there would have been a wobble, then a fall, a shatter. Her teachers knelt down to her level, asked her questions in a soft, reproachful voice. She wouldn't talk about it.
That girl, who we took to calling "Scuba Girl" for lack of a better name, was an absolute field day. We'd take the water bottles at lunch and balance them on top of our heads, faking her signature hunch, or stick our arms out really far, stomping around like we were in an old diving suit. It brought us together as a community, really, and, by the end of that day, every one of us stood up individually and believed that we had become as hilarious and ingenious as we were ever going to be.
Three days before it happened, the teachers got aggressive with their big questions about Scuba Girl, none of which we had thought about. Did her parents send her to school with it on? Could she breathe? Was it technically a hat (which was against school policy)? Scuba Girl sat and stared stone cold at the faculty group until she asked, finally, if they were talking to her, but her voice sounded like it was underwater, muffled. The glass was too thick to hear clearly. We all burst out laughing, not because of her question, but because she sounded so ridiculous. Someone pointed out that the teacher's voices must sound like that to her. It fit every single given stereotype.
Two days before it happened, she didn't show up for morning classes. We all looked around, waited for her, but it was like she just vanished. The class became as dull and lifeless as it had before, if not more. We looked for another human punching bag to no avail. When Scuba Girl re-entered the classroom near the end of the day, an oxygen tank now weighing down her back like a turtle, it was to our welcoming applause, only half-mocking. She then turned, walked out of the room again, and didn't come back for the rest of the day. Turns out, earlier she had a talk with the principal, who tried to physically take the helmet off of her head, along with the oxygen tank. After school, some of us caught her at the store with a cart full of preservatives, even though she could barely reach us. She saw us and mumbled something, but it changed every time we told the story, and became more ridiculous. The final version of it ended with her just making bubble noises.
The day before it happened, we tried to take the thing off ourselves. Scuba Girl walked in wearing the diver suit underneath her stretched clothes, plain as day. She glared at us every time we said something to or something about her. When one of us got too close to her, she physically pushed them away, like it was now serious business. We took the helmet by the base and tried to pull it off before school ended, and, even though the teachers turned a blind eye to us, it didn't work. We counted it as a loss, and tailed her from afar while she walked home out of wounded pride and curiosity. Amongst ourselves, we wondered if she had ever even been without it, even though it had only been a few days, and she had been in the classroom for years.
When the sun was about to set, we shouted a promise to "see you tomorrow!" at the locked house, and went home. At our front steps, we found a package, made of cardboard and light in our hands. We ripped the top open, and gingerly picked up what was inside, a look of confusion plastered on our faces. It was an umbrella.
The next day, the whole world flooded. The water rose far enough to make it look like we were at the bottom of the ocean, and the sun a distant spot of light. Scuba Girl, in her complete diver wardrobe, took a contemplative walk towards the school. Inside, she tugged down a chair that had floated to the ceiling.
Scuba Girl sat on the weightless chair, waiting for us to make good on our promise. A smile stretched across her face.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Author Comments

I actually found this concept at the bottom of a giant document of story ideas that I last edited about four years ago. During that time, I remember obsessing over something extraordinary happening during the dullest moments of class, or creating some sense of justice in the social jungle that was our school. The base idea stayed the same throughout editing, which is rare for me. I never thought of myself as Scuba Girl while writing this; however, I still see her in other people, walking alone in the halls, acting as though a flood of their own will come, but never able to be sure.

- Allison Marbry
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