Bathing Beauty Betty
Six year old Newton Dewberry stood rooted to the ground with bathing trunks that covered him past his knees. They’d been new when his oldest brother was 10.
He gazed up with his jaw just about at the hem of his trunks. He’d heard about Bathing Beauty Betty. He’d been sick for a week and Uly had visited and described the new sculpture to him in graphic detail.
Honestly, he preferred the swimming hole down the creek where you could catch bullfrogs and paint each other with the mud, but his mother dragged him to the community pool every day after school for swimming lessons with old Mrs. Crewnest.
And did he mean old! Her wrinkles were deeper and more numerous than the cottonmouth dens in the creek bank. She’d taught all his older brothers to swim. Newton wondered whether she didn’t expect the swimming trunks to do the back stroke, she’d taught them so many times.
She’d taught his dad to swim, and all his older brothers too. Different trunks though. They’d fallen apart after Dad did a backflip from the high diving board on his last swimming lesson. Mrs. Crewnest had run from the building screaming when he came out of the water. Still, Dad expected the present pair of trunks to outlast his youngest, who was two.
Bathing Beauty Betty, they had said, and they didn’t lie, now that Newton actually got an eyeball on her, the plastic figure of a girl who actually looked like she was swimming in the air above the community pool entrance, wore a ruby red paint bathing suit that didn’t cover up the fact that she was swimming. Did girls really point ahead like that under water? Newton’s swimming class only had one girl in it and she was just six.
She had huge buck teeth that spilled and splattered her spit all over the place. Newton was really happy he only saw her at the swimming pool with his trunks that covered his lower half. Most of the time she was underwater pointing ahead with her teeth. Her bathing suit was lime green, shiny new, and wouldn’t fit her by the end of this set of lessons. She didn’t have any siblings to pass it down to either. It wouldn’t fit Newton’s two year old brother either.
Newton’s mother yanked his hand. He licked his lips. He’d have to pass under Bathing Beauty Betty to get to the pool, to Mrs. Crewnest who he could hear at the pool. She didn’t seem happy and he thought he could see her pointing at the sculpture that hung over the community pool entrance.
“Disgusting!” he heard her yell. “At least give her some water to swim in!”
Newton kept an eye on the ruby red bathing suit to the last minute. The last he saw was her heels somersaulting over his head, flying way higher than her head.
He’d have to do that. He’d have to try that next time he got on the high diving board, so he could tell Uly, before the trunks got a day older.