An excerpt from The Longest Night (Nat’s first chapter) was featured on Literary Hub yesterday. Fun to be in such good company!
Paul shook his head. “You didn’t know what was under the water there. What if you dove down and hit something and never came up, right here in front of your little girls?”
“I knew it would be fine,” she said. And while she’d never admit it to Paul, the relief of not striking anything—that moment of plunging into the water and feeling herself go down, down, unimpeded, the cold exploding past her face and neck and body until her own air pulled her up again— was part of the fun. It had to be a little scary to count for anything.
She remembered that swimming was a different thing for him than it was for her; he’d grown up poor and never learned to swim until he got to boot camp, practicing every night, he’d said, in a pond near Fort Dix. This was one of the few concrete details she had of his youth, and it was a curious, poignant image: thin teenage Paul easing himself into the shallow dark, thrashing quietly along the shoreline until he could glide two strokes alone, three, four. Even then he passed the entrance test by the skin of his teeth, just enough to fill a pair of boots destined for Korea. It was no wonder, really, that the mild risks Nat liked to take scared him: the long swims to clear her head, cliff jumping, diving. But he acted as if she were doing it just to spite him, when in fact it had nothing to do with him at all. Which maybe, from his perspective, was even worse.
What if you never came up? She always came up.