This was inspired by a story that my students wrote.
“At the Pool’s Edge”
adapted into a play by Evan Baughfman
Zulayka and her brother walk beside a hotel pool.
Brother: Zulayka, watch! See how close I can get to the pool’s edge!
He walks along the edge of the pool like it’s a tight rope.
Zulayka: (yanking him back) Don’t do that! You don’t know how to swim!
Brother: (brushing her off) Neither do you!
Zulayka: Exactly! You see me doing what you’re doing? No, you don’t.
Brother: Aw, you’re no fun!
Zulayka: Tia said I had to watch you while she was at the room. That’s what I’m doing.
Brother: This is supposed to be a vacation, and all you wanna do is boss me around!
Zulayka: When you get to be older than me, you can be the boss.
Brother: But I’ll never be older than you!
Zulayka: Aw, too bad for you!
Tia: Hey, you two! I’ve been looking all over the hotel for you!
Kids: Sorry, Tia.
Tia: What’re you doing out here by the pool? Did I say it was okay to be out here without me?
Kids: No, Tia. Sorry, Tia.
Tia: It’s okay. You wanna go with me into town and see what’s there? Maybe we can get some ice cream?
Brother: Alright! Yeah!
Tia: (to Zulayka) How about you?
Zulayka: I guess so.
Tia: You “guess so”? Do you like being boring? Where’s your sense of adventure?
Brother: That’s what I’ve been saying!
Tia: Well, come on, let’s go, then.
Brother: Tia, I have to go to the bathroom first. Number Two.
Tia: There’s a restroom in the lobby.
Brother: But there might be strangers in there!
Tia: Fine. I’ll take you back to the room.
Zulayka: I don’t want to walk all the way back there. Can I just meet you in the lobby?
Tia: Okay, but you only go to the lobby from here. Nowhere else. Got it?
Tia: See you in the lobby in ten minutes.
Tia and Brother leave.
Zulayka: I am not boring.
She walks along the pool’s edge like her brother had done before.
Zulayka: I can be adventurous. I can be just as– whoa!
She loses her balance and falls into the pool with a SPLASH!
She struggles to swim and quickly sinks to the bottom of the pool.
Zulayka: Help! Help me!
She tries to swim, but she goes nowhere. She looks back and sees an octopus latched onto her with a tentacle.
Octopus: I’ve got you!
Octopus: Won’t you be my friend? I’m so lonely down here.
Zulayka: You’re not real.
Octopus: Yes, I am.
Zulayka: Octopuses don’t live in hotel pools. You’re just a figment of my imagination! Something to hold me down!
Octopus: Man, she’s smart. Good luck with this one, Shark.
The octopus releases the girl just as a shark approaches.
Shark: Fresh food. Yummy, yummy.
Zulayka: Get away from me!
Shark: Look at the helpless food. (circling around the girl) It can’t do anything to save itself.
Zulayka: Stop it! Tia! Help me! Tia! Where are you?
Shark: I love the taste of panic. The taste of fear.
Zulayka: You aren’t real! You aren’t real!
Shark: Smart girl. Maybe you’ve got some fight in you left.
The shark swims away. A lifeguard swims into the scene.
Zulayka: Oh, good! A lifeguard!
Lifeguard: You’re hallucinating.
Zulayka: You can save me!
Lifeguard: But I’m not really here.
Zulayka: You’re a lifeguard, though.
Lifeguard: There’s no lifeguard on duty at this pool.
Zulayka: That’s right. There isn’t…
Lifeguard: You have to help yourself.
Zulayka: But it’s so hard!
Lifeguard: You have to try!
Zulayka: You’re right!
Zulayka does her best to swim away from the imaginary lifeguard, but she only makes it a couple of feet before sinking again.
Zulayka: Tia…Tia…Help me, Tia…
Zulayka curls up at the bottom of the pool, giving up, ready to sleep forever.
There is a SPLASH! Suddenly, Tia is there!
Tia: No! Please! Please, don’t let me be too late!
Tia grabs Zulayka and pulls her up to the surface.
Once on the surface, Tia carries Zulayka out of the pool. The girl lies there on the ground, motionless. Brother stands nearby, frightened.
Brother: Is she okay?!
Tia: I don’t know!
Zulayka coughs, spitting up water.
Tia: Thank goodness!
Zulayka: What happened?
Tia: As soon as we left the pool area, we heard a splash. I ran back and saw you were at the bottom. Did you jump in?
Zulayka: No. I fell. How long was I underwater for?
Tia: Luckily, only for a few seconds.
Zulayka: It felt like I was down there forever. I was seeing things.
Tia: You were at the edge of someplace else. Someplace really bad. You almost went through. We almost lost you. I’m glad we didn’t!
She pulls in both of the kids for a group hug.
Brother: I think we need swimming lessons.
Zulayka: I agree.
Tia: Yes, as soon as we get back home.