*Part 3/7 of The Safest Summer Camp in the World. If you haven’t caught up, click HERE.

Sunlight on a lake puts everyone in a good mood; kids, doubly so. There are about fifty of them, My Mother used to sing a song when we’d go to the beach as a kid:


We’re going to the beach!

I love the beach- weee…

She was a lawyer. A group of kids have a Frisbee. The tell me in Russian that it is called “Flying Plate.”

I play a bit. A few of them are doing gymnastics on the side. We are beside a horse farm, occasionally the Frisbee will go over. One kid or another chases after it to the tune of “Oh come on!”

They duck under the fence. There is a sign with a lightning bolt on it, something written in Finnish. The kids are allowed to swim in shifts. Eventually the Frisbee players are called into the water. I walk to the shore. S is splashing about among them with a floating Go-Pro.

“Come!” he calls.

I shake my head. He gives me a disappointed look. He rallies the kids until all are chanting for me to get in. I sigh, take of my shirt and walk over to where S is standing.

“Yay,” I say–toneless and shivering.

I splash about a bit, go under. It feels nice. Then, someone cries out. I turn to find all of the kids holding each other under, one by one. I look at S, he is coming toward me, arms outstretched, smiling.

“You’re turn,” he says. His hands are on my shoulders. The body of a kid named Misha floats by.

“Wait–no!” but it’s too late, he has me under. I struggle and manage to get loose. I come up, choking. S is advancing.

“Oh–fucking wait!”

He looks confused–a bit sad.



“But, didn’t K tell you?”

I don’t respond.

“So you must?” he says. I sigh and don’t move. He takes it as a sign and comes closer. I am under for forty-five seconds–it’s hell. Then, I’m being pulled up. The water is blurring my eyes. I hack up a bunch of water. S is still holding my arms.

“Sorry–” he says, “but what is this called?”


“This.” he pushes me back under the water, then pulls me up.

I claw at his arms and back away. “Drowning! it’s called freaking drowning, man.”

S smiles. “Ah! I like that word.”

He comes closer. I hold up my hand.

“No! Hell no,” I start walking to shore, nudging the corpse of Misha out of my way. S calls after me. “Wait! We have to.”

I turn with some pretty dark language loaded into my tongue. But, from behind S, one of the other councilors dunks him under. I watch him die, shaking my head. I walk back to the kids playing Frisbee. It’s a group that have all died already. They are looking at me, disapproving. No one throws me the Frisbee. So, I go and stand beside the horse pasture. One of the younger students, a girl with glasses named Dasha, comes up beside me.

“Why didn’t you–” she points at the lake. I sigh.

“I just don’t like it,” I say, controlling my tone.

She frowns. “You’re not a fun teacher, are you?”

She walks away before I can respond. I feel somehow guilty. I look at the fence–the kids, the fence.

“Dasha?” I call. She turns.

“Check this out then,” I say, managing a small smile.

I grab the fence.

I am dead in seconds.


A Writer and an artist living in Russia

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