Title: WHAT HAPPENS IN WATER
Genre: YA contemporary
Word Count: 53,000
Savannah Gregory just failed her road test for the seventh–yes, seventh–time. That’s not the only failure in her life: try her torn ligaments and shaky gymnastics comeback, and the mother who forgot her name when she was eight. But at least there’s Cassie, her best friend. The only person she trusts. Savannah has spent her childhood and high school years following Cassie’s whims. Flakey, artsy Cassie who does what she wants.
Like attempting to drown herself.
She fails, but now there’s a gulf between them that Savannah doesn’t know how to breach. Although her best friend’s still alive, Savannah turns to her classmate Marcos instead, plunging into his world.
Weirdly, she can trust Marcos as much as she trusts Cassie. Maybe even more. She can tell him about her mother, about her gymnastics, about, well, anything. The son of Mexican immigrants, Marcos doesn’t take anything for granted. But he does take everything personally, like the guys at his job who won’t stop heckling him.
One afternoon, he can’t take it anymore. And that afternoon, Savannah has to decide whether she’ll stick with Cassie’s decisions or make her own.
WHAT HAPPENS IN WATER follows the choices one must make to be one’s self—and the costs.
There’s more than one way to fail, and if you do it like me, seven times infinity is how you start.
“Savannah Gregory,” I say as my father’s voice flows over mine: “Kaitlyn Gregory.”
“This says ‘K.S. Gregory,’” says the DMV worker with the I-don’t-have-time-nor-patience-for-your-discrepancy tone, tapping the blue index card. “Are you K.S. Gregory?”
“Yes,” we say at the same time.
“Fantastic.” DMV Man clearly does not find this fantastic. “Park across from the playground and wait there.”
I pull the keys from Dad’s hand. He tightens a finger around the Oneonta lanyard. Foiled, as usual.
“Which playground?” Dad asks. “There are swings on both sides of the street.”
“A tire swing doesn’t count as a playground,” I say.
“You had tire swings on your playground.”
“You’ll see where the other cars are lined up,” DMV Man says. “Next?”
Outside, early morning October sunshine hits my eyes. Cassie cut school to go to Montauk today. Nobody’s in Montauk, especially after the first frost glazed the fields yesterday, and that’s just how she likes it.
Tomorrow, she’ll show our teachers the photographs, lowering her thick eyelashes and dropping her voice so that it falls into her purple-and-green Palestinian scarf as she holds out the camera, held gently like a sleeping child. She’ll even win over our notoriously hard-ass pre-calc teacher. He too will carefully take the camera and peer at the tiny square representation of Cassie’s skill. He too will be enchanted. As always, she will be forgiven.