I took a deep, deep breath as I climbed up the soaking wet ladder. Holding in that breath, I started to slowly climb from the ladder over to the dunking board that was already soaking wet. My heart started to flutter as I inched my way toward the very end of the board. Looking down, I noticed there was a good two feet from where my feet were tangling down and the freezing water below. Releasing my breath I eased my hands down to my side and focused my eyes toward the crowd that was starting to huddle around the throwing line.
As I watched the crowd grow, I started to wonder who would be the first one to try their luck and dunk me. After a minute or so though, one of the girls from the crowd, the same girl from before, the one with the honey blonde hair and deep blue eyes stepped out. She had a pink towel wrapped around her body and a playful smile plastered across her lips. Taking a deep breath, she reached down and picked up one of the yellow tennis balls.
"So Cerridwen." She said smiling as she squeezed the tennis ball. "You got some kills, heck you even managed to dunk me twice." She said smiling as she then tossed the ball from her right hand into her left then back to her right. "And I've noticed you decided to dress up as a cheerleader for Halloween. Its kind of cute really, I mean dunking booths and cheerleaders go hand in hand right? Like butter and popcorn."
After that statement she paused, took a deep breath, drew back her arm and let the ball fly. The round ball sailed through the air and came within a hair's breadth of striking the target. The ball made a loud popping sound as it struck the safety wall behind the trigger. A frown quickly formed on Lily face as she noticed the ball sailing past the target. Closing her eyes and releasing her breath she walked over and picked up the ball. Once the ball was in her hand, she looked up and smiled at me.
"Second time's the charm right?" She said as she walked back to the throwing line. All eyes had now focused in on Lily and I. I felt a deep blush color my face as I brought my knees together and folded my hands in my lap. I shifted my gaze toward Lily who was looking up at me with a small smile. For a solid thirty seconds Lily and I just peered at each other. Then finally she drew back her arm once more and tossed the ball. The ball sailed through the air and this time smacked into the trigger with a loud bang. A few seconds later, I felt the seat I was sitting under give way and I felt a rush of freezing cold water. For a few minutes I bobbled around the tank, the water was freezing cold and the skimpy nature of my costume offered little or no protection from the chill.
"Push the seat up girl!" The second blonde hair girl cried out. I think her name was Jamie, "Push the seat back up and climb back up!" She called out. She then paused, "Hey don't wait too long. The water is freezing I know, but you're the last one. We're going to call it a night before long, so just hang in there girl!"
I nodded my head and took a deep breath as I pushed the seat up, it soon clicked back into place and once more I found myself climbing back up the old iron ladder in the back. Once more I climbed over from the ladder back to the seat. And once more I inched my way down the board till I was perched at the very end.
"So!" Cried Lily with a big smile as she watched me position myself once more. "How was your first ever dunking!" She cried out with a big smile. "Cold enough for you?" She added with a cheeky smile.
"Freezing!" I cried out as I once more brought my legs together and folded my hands in my lap. "But come on give me your best shot!" I cried out again.
"Nah I'm finished. I'd had my revenge." she said smiling softly. "Hey, how old are you?" She asked.
"Fourteen. Going on fifteen.." I responded quite unsure what she was driving at.
"Okay cool, if you get a working permit. Come down to 'Sweet Magnolia' it's the little cafe, tea room, bakery downtown. Ask for Lily Potter, and I'll hand you an application. I'm the co-manager and owner of the place. If I'm not there, and there is this red haired girl there, her name is Robin Peers, she is the other co-manager and owner. Tell her that Lily Potter sent you. She should hand you an application too. It's only part time, but hey, I'll give you a fair wage." She then smiled and gave me a big thumbs up.
With that being said, Lily once more offered me a little smile with her towel wrapped around her shoulders like a cloak, turned toward the warmth of the gathering table. A few seconds later, Jamie the other Potter sister stepped up and smiled toward me. She was still wrapped up in her neon pink towel that now hung off her shoulders, it kind of reminded me of a shawl of hyper pink shawl.
"So, Cerridwen." She said smirking as she reached down into the basket and pulled out a tennis ball. "I just gotta say, I'm glad you decided to come out and help us. Even though we kind of pegged you with the last shift." Her voice trailed a little as she said that last bit. "But for real, thank you. I mean you volunteering kind of saved me having to volunteer to take the last shift!"
"Hey no problem!" I said before falling into a fit of giggles. I mean it was comical in its own way. Here I was taking the last turn in a dunking booth. And instead of hassling me or mocking me, every one just seemed chilled and more interested in talking to me, there seemed to be a genuine curiosity about me. Maybe because I was a witch? Okay I was still learning the craft, so maybe an apprentice witch? There was a traditional period of preparation and learning I was still going through before I could become a full fledged member of the community. A period of a year and day of studying, mentoring, and testing was normally required by the bylaws of our tiny village.
"So! Why did you volunteer?" She asked as she reached down and picked up another ball. "I mean, you're not a member of the club, I mean that could change, We meet every Tuesday and Thursday in the school's library for like an hour after school. We're thinking about expanding to include all of Benton too. So like you're welcome to join our meetings. We're really informal too." She paused again as she tossed the ball into the air and then eyeing the target she drew back her arm and tossed the ball. The ball sailed through the air and by an amazing stroke of luck struck the iron target. The sound of the ball slamming into the metal target echoed through the cold night air.
A dozen frantic beats of the heart later, I once more felt the seat give way. And soon once more I felt myself dropping like a stone. Water splashed over the surface of the tank as my bottom touched the hard plastic floor of the tank. Taking a deep breath, I swam toward the little window in the bottom and pressed my face to the clear plastic sheet. Through the plastic, I could see the little group cheering and slapping Jamie on the back. A deep blush colored my cheekbones as I started to move toward the surface. I soon broke the surface of the water and took a deep, deep breath.
"Nice shot!" I cried out as I pushed the seat back and once more I waited till I heard that metal click before climbing out and once more climbing up the ladder. Once I reached the top of the ladder, I climbed back onto the seat and inched my bottom toward the edge. Then I once more brought my knees together and folded my hands in my lap. I took a deep breath, I was quite soaked to the bone and the light cotton fabric of the skirt was starting to cling to my legs and the white top was starting to cling to my chest.
"Hey thank you for being such a good sport!" Jamie called out. She then looked over and spotted my mom, who was sipping on a milkshake, a chocolate milkshake no doubt. If mom ever had a vice it had to be her weakness for milkshakes and chocolate malts. Mom blinked as she noticed Jamie staring at her with a smile as big as the sun.
"Hey! You're her mom right?" She said smiling as she walked over and handed mom one of the tennis balls. "We have time for like a few more pitches. And since you're here mother, why don't you go ahead and give dunk her." Jamie said smiling softly.
Mom blinked and blinked again as she finished her milkshake. She then pitched the empty styrofoam cup into a nearby metal trash can. She then shrugged her shoulders as she walked up and took the ball from Jamie's hand and smiled as she looked up and focused her eyes on me. A wicked little grin crossed her face as she tossed the ball from her left hand to her right and then from her right back to her left.
"So, daughter." She said smiling softly as she eyed the target. "I'm pleased to see you sitting like a lady. That pose is the pose I expect from the daughter of Pandora Whitethorn." She grinning as she kept tossing the ball back and forth it was like she was teasing me. "You also know that I really do love you? Like you are my star and moon right?" She said as she stopped tossing the ball back and forth as she took a deep breath and drew back and tossed the ball toward the target.
I watched the ball sail through the air and then shuttered as I heard the ball smash into the metal target. The seat once more gave way and I once more dropped like a stone into the freezing cold water below. I soon felt my bottom touch the floor of the tank again and like last time, I swam toward the window to give the person who dunked me a fair view. Then once more I broke the surface of the water, water once more splashed over the edges and soaked the concrete the tank was resting on. Turning toward my mom, I pouted once more as I pushed the seat of the tank up till it clicked into place, then I climbed back onto the tank and took a deep breath. Mom smirked and shook her head.
"Oh honey, those big, puppy dog eyes and cherry red lips are cute and all. But I'm your mother, they have no effect on me whatsoever. Now, a teenage boy would be driven mad by such a display." My mom said in a teasing tone of voice, And with that she tossed her second ball and once more she had the devil's luck as the ball struck the metal target, sending back into the water. This time I wasted no time in breaking the surface, the water was starting to become almost freezing and the wind was starting to blow harder now. The cold autumn breeze cut like a knife as it blew across the parking lot, a crumpled up piece of paper tumbled across the now almost barren parking like, for a minute I was reminded of a opening scene of some old western, like the ones daddy like to watched on his days off or on lazy Sunday afternoons.
"Okay! I think that's enough. We don't want her to catch pneumonia." Mom said.
"Yep, it's getting cold," Jamie said, shivering a little. "I think we need to call it a night gang."
"I agree." Her older sister said, shivering a little as the wind started to rise.
"Plus, you know the ghost train is supposed to run tonight. And I for one don't want to be caught sitting on the tank if that thing decides to appear." Lily said, taking a deep breath as she peered toward the moon.
"The Rougarou is supposed to roam the bottomlands and woods on nights like tonight. That beast will be on the prowl tonight I'm sure of it." Mom said as she looked up at the moon. "I don't know about a ghost train, but I do know that the Rougarou is a lot meaner on nights like tonight. If any of you live near the creeks, I suggest locking your doors and windows and bringing your pets inside, he'll be stalking the bottomlands and the creeks. He is known to travel along Williams creek too."
And with that being said, I climbed out of the tank and eased myself down upon the concrete. What happened next, mom wrapped me up tightly in a towel, and marched me to the bathroom to change into the spare set of clothing she brought. I then exchanged numbers with Lily, Jamie, Madeline and the rest. And the next day Lily and Jamie invited me to sit with them at lunch. And so that's how my dunking booth adventure ends. Oh and I did not catch pneumonia. I caught friendship!