Freshly minted grad Emilia Noble arrives in Costa Rica to teach English in the tropical community of Pacifica. Its carefree, pura vida lifestyle is a welcome contrast to her dark and wintry origins. Tossing caution aside like an old winter coat, she plunges headfirst into an exotic cocktail of sensory pleasure.
Diego is a local whose surfer body and cool detachment make Lia buzz with a long-lost thrill. Fascinated by her new environment, she can’t help but wonder about the moody inner workings of the boy with triceps like Wolverine and a grimace to match.
Diego seems to have no problem ignoring Lia, though. Caught up in his family’s conflicted attitude toward foreigners, he notices her only when it’s convenient. But as Lia thrives in her new surroundings, Diego might just find reason enough to defy his embattled, insular father. When north and south are mixed together, the results are intoxicating.
Diego looks back at me and nods his head toward the falls. Then he swims toward the shuddering ripples where gravity yanks endlessly.
I approach but slow down as we get closer. Am I supposed to go under that thing?
Diego’s reached the edge of the curtain, and he’s staring up at it. Nervousness propels me forward. I’m getting that feeling like What am I getting myself into? Vibration fills my head like cymbals crashing, grinding together, one uninterrupted note.
I’m right behind him now, but he doesn’t see me. Can’t hear a thing. He whips around suddenly and we’re facing each other, inches apart. We’re both startled.
“Jesus.” I don’t hear him say it, but I see it on his lips.
“Sorry!” I call out over the ruckus. The word vanishes, crushed by the bigger sound.
He just looks at me. Gauging. The air around us is fizzy drizzle.
“We have to go under!”
This my ears pick up. Something about the lower tone of his voice cuts through the white noise and gets right inside my head.
Going under. I knew it.
I must look somewhere between angry and terrified because he softens into an incredulous smile.
“Whoa, gringa. It’s okay.” Issokay, sounds like. Maybe I’m just reading his lips and my brain is filling in the rest. It’s getting to know him better, this brain.
“Does it hurt, going through?”
“No, of course not. It’s very thin, just loud. You’ll see.”
The crashing freaks me right out. Makes me think about drowning accidents. Diego can probably run a marathon with a keg on his back if he wanted to, but he might not realize I’m not so invincible.
“I don’t know…”
He tilts his head, like Awww, that’s sweet. Eyes on mine, teasing and giving at the same time. His hand finds mine under water and pulls it toward his own body as it moves. He’s pulling me in along with him.
I tighten up, resisting. My teeth are clamped shut, the water sputtering in my eyes. Oh god.
“It’s okay, Lia. Come on. One… two…”
I hear myself squeal, not unlike an anime character. No use.
I’m yanked forward, and now that I know it’s definitely happening, I move with him like we’re tobogganing and I’m in the back, unable to see the bottom of the hill and just hoping the big guy in front knows what he’s doing.
Turns out, it’s wet.
About Audrey O’Conner
Audrey O’Connor can’t help but color outside the lines with big, bright markers. She’s fascinated by the influence of popular culture on the female experience and inspired by creative boldness and the breaking of the dumb rules women are supposed to follow. Audrey lives in Chelsea, Quebec, where she can be found DJ-ing at local events or scanning a cafe for outlets for her laptop.