The Year I Almost Drowned - By Shannon McCrimmon

Chapter 1

The tips of my fingers touched my mouse, dragging it back and forth on the dark gray mouse pad, scrolling up and down the computer screen as I searched Harrison College’s spring semester course offerings. The titles were intriguing if not unique: All About Austen; Yoga for the Inflexible; History’s Dirty Details; Shakespeare in Layman’s Terms; Economics for the Financially Challenged. After more than an hour of reading each course description and with a few clicks on my mouse, I registered for a full load of courses for the spring semester.

I could feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. I took it out and read the text message from my mom. “Happy Birthday, Finn. Did you get my present? I haven’t heard from you in a while. Call me. Love, Mom.” My mother had the innate ability to make me feel guilty with just a few typed words. I placed the phone back in my pocket and made a mental note to call her later.

A draft of cool air sifted through my Nana’s library, and I clasped the top button to my navy blue wool sweater. Nana had given it to me; it was my dad’s when he was younger and it had become my fashion staple for fall. I loved it even if it was old and tattered. The dangling pieces of thread and pin-sized holes somehow made me feel closer to him.

“Finn!” Nana called from the kitchen.

“Yes,” I answered with a raised voice. I picked up one of her aged books, flipping through the well-worn antiqued pages. Nana had a large stock of books–most of them very old–bought long ago. This was one of my favorite rooms in my grandparents’ house. I loved it for the wooden book shelves that reached to the ceiling, the oh–so–comfortable brown leather chair, and the smell. Nana’s library was a musty, sweet mix of leather and decaying paper.

“Come here,” she hollered again.

I put the book back where it belonged–on the shelf and in alphabetical order–and headed toward the kitchen. The sun shined into the bright, cheery room with its yellow cabinets and strawberry wallpaper that bordered the ceiling. Nana loved the color red. Her kitchen screamed this, with red curtains, red placemats and red rugs. They were all a part of the bold décor.

The smell of peanut butter and melted milk chocolate–a heavenly mix–filled the air. I watched as Nana sprinkled flakes of milk chocolate on top of fluffy whipped cream.

“Yum. It smells so good.” I inhaled again, my mouth watering. Her pies made me hungry even if I did have a full stomach. Just looking at them was enough enticement.

She picked up the mixing bowl and handed it to me. “Here’s what didn’t make it in the pie if you want it.”

I took it from her and dipped my finger in the bowl, gathering a heap of peanut butter and chocolate. I stuck my finger in my mouth and licked the sweet saltiness. “Delicious,” I said, trying to savor the taste.

Pointing to the peanut buttery, chocolate goodness, she asked, “Can you drop this pie off at the Rotary Club on your way to get your dad?”

“Sure.” I stuck my finger in the bowl for a third and fourth helping. My sweet tooth was going to be the death of me one day. I finished off the last of the chocolate and peanut butter remnants and rinsed the bowl before placing it in the dishwasher.

She wrapped her arms around me and smiled. Her perfume lingered in the air. It was a pleasing scent of jasmine and honeysuckle. “I’m so happy we get to celebrate your nineteenth birthday with you, Finn.”

“Me, too.” It was the first time I would ever celebrate a birthday with my grandparents and my dad, or at least one I’d remember. We hadn’t spent any of my birthday’s together since I was two and that was too far back for me to have any memories.

She tore saran wrap off of the roll and wrapped it securely over the pie before placing it in one of her baskets. “This is your grandfather’s favorite pie,” she said.

“I know.”

She tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow. “He’s not eating pie at the diner is he?” I avoided making any eye contact with her. My face got warm and turned a rosy red. It was an instant tell. “Thought so,” she said. “He shouldn’t be eating sweets. Don’t let him, Finn.”

My grandfather hadn’t fully recovered from the heart attack he