Tern was deeply grateful for the warm weather which his hometown, Cozyville, had been treated to the last few days. It had been raining a lot in the spring, but now it was summer, which so far, had turned out to be mostly comfortable, if not a little on the steamy side. But Tern was grateful for the touch of heat, even so.
School was out, and Tern wanted to have fun on his summer vacation. He walked to the playground across from his house, waiting for Fabiola, his friend, and Farid, his best pal, to come join him. He swung on one of the swings, enjoying the morning sun, waiting for another fun day to begin with his friends.
Soon, Fabiola and Farid showed up at the park. Fabiola was dressed in a beautiful white flowered dress and a red shirt. Her girlish figure never ceased to amaze Tern. Farid was walking by Fabiola's side, and his dark, black hair was waving in the wind. He smiled at Tern.
Farid had been with them for a time now. He was actually part bird, and part human. That meant he could fly as he pleased.
"Hello, friends!" Tern laughed heartfully. "Glad you could make it. Hi, Farid!" He ran and gave him a hug. "Good to see you, buddy!"
"Hi", Farid said shyly, smiling.
"Hi, Fabiola!" Tern shouted with joy, giving her a big hug.
"Hi, Tern!" She smiled. "I can't believe how sunny it has been lately."
"Yeah", Tern said. "And the weather is nice, too. Right Farid?"
Farid sat down on the bench and smiled. "Yeah. I like nice", he said quietly.
"You know, I was thinking......" Fabiola said thoughtfully.
"Yes? What were you thinking, friend?" Tern asked her.
"Well, it's so nice, and a little on the hot side. I feel as though we could all go swimming this week."
"Swimming! You bet!" Tern said excitedly, smiling from ear to ear. "After all, it is the middle of June, and I , for one, love swimming."
Tern loved to splash in the water every summer, the coolness of the water on a hot day. He didn't know Fabiola liked to swim, but now that she did, he had someone to swim with!
"Doesn't that sound great, Farid!?" Fabiola asked Farid.
"Um........" he said, staring at the ground. "Yeah." He looked a little uncomfortable.
"Okay! I guess we're all in for swimming, then! It's going to be a fun time!" Fabiola smiled cheerfully. "How about tomorrow?"
"Yes!" Tern said happily.
The next day, Tern and his friends were riding their bikes to the swimming pool in Cozyville. The swimming pool was near the center of town. It had a couple of restrooms, some showers, and some sinks in a red-brick building, which was next to the outside, built in swimming pool. The pool was surrounded by hard wood trees, which reflected nicely in the water. The water was clear, so even in the 9 foot area, you could see to the bottom of the pool. There were lots of children playing in the swimming pool already, and it was only 1:00 in the afternoon.
Inside, Farid was very uncomfortable and nervous. He had never swam before, and he didn't want to embarrass himself in front of his friends, Tern and Fabiola. He started to wonder if he could come up with an excuse not to swim as he and his friends were walking towards the red brick building from where the three of them had locked their bicycles.
"Are you ready to have some fun!?" Fabiola asked Farid.
He was shivering with fear. "I have a headache", he said. Which wasn't true.
"Oh", Tern said, taken by a little surprise. "Are you sick, Farid?"
"I don't know", he said. But he did know that he
Tern and his friends then walked to the swimming area.
While Tern and Fabiola jumped straight into the water with big splashes, Farid sat watching, instead, far enough away from them to where he wouldn't get splashed from the other swimmers.
"This is so fun!" Tern cried happily. "Farid, you're missing the fun!"
Farid smiled sadly and nodded.
Tern splashed Fabiola in delight. Fabiola splashed him back, and they went at it for a time.
Then Fabiola splashed Tern right in the eyes, and he turned his head to gather more water. Laughing, he then suddenly splashed Fabiola with a sharp slash of his hand through the water, making big waves.
It looks like they are having fun, Farid thought. But I think I'll stay right here.
Even though Fabiola and Tern were splashing each other, they were careful not to splash Farid.
Farid watched the other children swimming, too. They all were having fun. Some of them were floating on their backs in the water, which some said was easier than it seemed. Farid had tried that once when he had been really little, but apparently, he hadn't been 'relaxed' enough. His mother bluejay, who had once passed away from a hunter attack, once said that 'just let your body relax. Pretend you're going to sleep. Then you will float.' Well, apparently, Farid thought, being relaxed is easier said than done, in that case. At least it was for me.
Then, he looked at Tern and Fabiola racing each other across the pool, laughing, wiping water from their eyes. They picked a good day to swim, he thought, looking at the sunny sky, smiling. It's very warm, and the sun's out. I hope they don't get sunburned, though, he thought.
He watched them a bit more, and thought about inching his way down the ladder at the shallow end just so he could get wet and partly join in the fun. But he decided maybe he could do that another time when there would not be as many people swimming. If I got in now, he thought, I might get splashed or bump into someone, and then drown.
A couple of girls were standing behind Farid a moment later. "Why are you just sitting there!?" One of the girls asked.
Farid looked up. "Well, I don't know", he said timidly.
"Have some fun!" One girl laughed, giving Farid a hard, playful shove into the water. It took Farid completely by surprise, and he soon fell face first into the water. He knew 5 seconds too late that he shouldn't have been sitting so close to the edge of the pool.
Once Farid was in, he cried out in panic and started frantically trying to get out of the water. "I-! I can't- I CAN"T SWIM!" He cried.
Fabiola turned around in an instant. "Farid, take my hand!"
Tern immediately tried to help Farid out of the water.
"Oh my gosh, what did we do!?" The two girls who had pushed him in said worriedly. They started to panic. A lot of the children in the swimming pool began to watch the commotion. "Too bad the life guard isn't on duty!" Tern snapped. "Come on! Help me pull him out, Fabiola!" He shouted. It was a one horse struggle, because Farid was taller than both of them, and it didn't help that there was no life guard.
In a minute, Farid was safely back on land. He was breathing, shaking, and crying.
"It's okay", Tern said to him.
"We're sorry. We didn't know he didn't know how to swim", the girl who had pushed him in said shakily. "If there's anything we can do-"
"It's okay", Tern said. "You shouldn't have done it, but it's okay. Everything's okay now."
"I'm sorry", the girl said to Farid.
"Thanks", Farid said, in a daze. "It's okay", he said shyly.
In a couple of minutes, all was normal again, and the children at the swimming pool resumed their playing.
Tern then turned his attention to Farid. "You didn't tell us you didn't know how to swim. You should've.
You were dishonest. Why didn't you tell us the truth!?"
"I didn't want to be embarrassed. I- I guess I was just scared you would think I was a baby or something. I don't know", Farid said quietly.
Tern thought for a minute. "It's better to be honest about something like that", Tern said, scolding his friend.
Fabiola put a hand on his shoulder. "Farid, you are a really good friend. I want you to know that no matter what skills you have or don't have, we are still your friends. You don't need to hide your truths."
Farid nodded. "Okay. I'm sorry."
"It's okay", Tern said. "Anyways, I think we should be heading out now. We've had quite a day today."
On the way home, while they were riding their bikes, Farid spoke up. "I- I want to learn how to swim", he said. "I guess I've never learned how."
Fabiola smiled. "Okay!" She then looked at Tern. "Farid wants to swim. Maybe we should get him swimming lessons. How does that sound, Farid?" She turned his attention back to him.
Farid nodded shyly. "It's nice."
"Swimming lessons will help you learn how to swim in a time frame of a few days", Tern said. "But you'll have to be willing to go with the pace of the class".
"How fast will the pace go?" Farid asked.
"I think the first week, you will be learning the very basics of swimming. I don't think they'll have you dive or go in the deep water the first week."
"When will they have me dive?" Farid asked.
"Probably three weeks into the course", Tern said.
"Oh", Farid said.
Farid was unsure if he could keep up with the pace which the swimming course would create. But hopefully, they will go slow enough for me, he thought.
The next day, Tern tried to find swimming lessons for Farid. His first stop was Professional Swimming Instruction.
Professional Swimming Instruction was a small swimming course business in downtown Cozyville. Tern felt like he could trust that the employees of the business were well skilled at teaching and could teach Farid how to swim. However, things didn't go quite as Tern expected.
"Hi. I have a friend who would like to have swimming lessons. How long is the course?"
"3 and a half weeks", the man said. "But the course is detailed, and students learn special techniques in this course. What makes this swimming school different from the rest is that this school is very good quality. When swimmers complete the 3 and a half weeks, they know how to swim perfectly."
"How much gold does it cost?"
"500 Gold a week", the man said. "Or, if your friend would like to do one on one, it will only be 1200 gold a week. Classes begin next week, as a matter of fact. Are you still interested?"
"Hmmm", Tern said. "And you can't make it cheaper?"
"I'm afraid not", the man said.
"Oh", Tern said.
"I suggest your friend try learning with us", the man said. "It may be expensive, true, but we are serious about teaching good swimming instruction. You won't regret buying service from us".
"Well, it's just that-" Tern started. He thought this would've been a good place for Farid to learn, except for one thing.
"What? What is it?" The man asked uncertainly.
"I'm sorry", Tern said, disappointed. Throwing his hands up in a giving up gesture. He and his mother, and Fabiola and her mother were poor, and he wasn't expecting it to cost this much. Farid, of course, didn't have any money. Even if Fabiola and Tern each paid half, the most they could afford was 100 gold a week. He walked out of the building. Maybe he could find a cheaper one. "It's a little too expensive for us." That was putting it mildy, Tern thought. It was a lot too expensive for us.
"I'm sorry you feel that way", the man said. "But maybe sometime else, feel free to come back."
"Okay", Tern said.
"Thanks for stopping by", the man said.
The next place he tried was Cozyville Swimming
"Well", the lady at the desk said, "for the entire course, it is 900 gold."
"How long is the course?" Tern asked.
Tern saw that this place was cheaper than the last place; 450 gold a week, but still way out of his spending range. He was looking for something more along the lines of 50 gold a week, and he didn't think he could find it.
He headed home to the park. He saw Farid and Fabiola there, on the swings, visiting with each other. "Hi, friends." Then he sighed. "I tried to find a place for Farid to learn how to swim, but the places are way too expensive."
"Okay", Fabiola said. Then she shrugged. "We should get him a life jacket. Farid, how does a life jacket sound?"
Farid smiled. "A life jacket- you mean so I won't drown?"
"Well, you can still drown with a life jacket, but it's a lot more difficult to drown with one than without one. You're a lot safer in a life jacket. How about it?"
Farid smiled. "Yeah. Nice."
The next day, all three of them walked over to Swimware Excessories. Why it was named Excessories instead of accessories, Tern could only guess, but when he and his friends entered, there were all sorts of equipment; fishing rods, fishing accessories, life jackets, books, surfs, boats, canoes, and rafts. It was a swimming and fishing paradise. And not only because there was so much to choose from, but because everything seemed to have low prices, which were mostly in the range of Tern's budget.
Tern then found a life jacket on sale for 70% off while the retail price was 15 gold. "Which color do you want?" He asked Farid. There was blue, orange, pink, green, and yellow.
"Um.............blue is nice", Farid said. "Please."
"Well", Fabiola said. "I guess we can go and check out now. And by the way, while we're still here", she said thoughtfully, "why not get a book on swimming, too?"
Tern pushed Fabiola on the back Playfully. "Good idea!" He cried happily.
"Nice idea", Farid smiled shyly.
And with that, all three of them, after having bought Farid's items, were off to home.
The next day, Tern had asked Farid if he wanted to start his swimming day early, and Farid had been glad to. "Yes. Nice idea", he said, smiling.
Fabiola was busy helping her mother with shopping today, so Tern walked with Farid to the swimming area. Since it was only 7:30 in the morning, the water was just a tad bit chilly, but there was no one else at the swimming pool. Tern had wanted to give Farid as much privacy as he could while he was first learning how to swim so he wouldn't be embarrassed from his poor skill. Farid put his life jacket on, ready for the fun morning.
"Now you can just try wading in at your own pace", Tern said gently. "Don't be afraid, Farid."
"Okay", Farid smiled. He started climbing down the ladder to the three foot part of the swimming pool, which was the shallowest. "Wo!" He cried out, and then burst out laughing. He looked at Tern. "It's cold."
"It'll warm up in a couple of minutes", Tern smiled. It was 75 degrees outside, and Tern knew that Farid would soon get used to the water's temperature.
In a couple of minutes, Farid was fully in the water. Then while he and Tern visited, Farid gradually waded to the deeper part of the pool. He was afraid at first, but then, holding onto the ledge, he led himself to the nine foot end.
The next morning, Fabiola came to the swimming pool to see Farid's progress. "You're not afraid anymore, Farid, of the water. That's good!" She said happily.
Farid smiled. "I want to learn how to swim!" He said.
"Okay. Well I have a book that I can teach you from", Fabiola said, smiling. "That same book that we bought from the store."
During the next two hours, Fabiola pointed out swimming techniques and basic swimming motions which were talked about in the book. Farid learned fast, and with a life jacket, he was not afraid to venture into the nine foot sections. To Farid, it felt as if he had lifted a big fear and burden off of his shoulders. It felt as if he had learned a type of freedom he hadn't had before. Sure, he was part bird, and he could fly, but now he knew how to swim as a boy, too.
"It's so great to see you swimming!" Fabiola said.
The next morning, Farid started swimming in the three foot section and swam around the whole swimming pool, having fun for hours. He felt good to be continuing to face his fear of swimming.
He made it around the whole swimming pool successfully, and Fabiola and Tern were happy for him.
He made his way back up the ladder, and was slightly shivering when he made it out of the water. It was sunny, so Farid flopped down on the ground, letting the sun bask his back.
Fabiola and Tern clapped. "Good job, Farid!" Tern said.
"Thanks", Farid smiled. "I guess I know how to swim."
"Maybe we can go take a trip to a lake sometime, of course, with a gentle slope", Tern said happily.
"I like sparkling pretty lakes", Farid said, smiling. He nodded.
"I think we should plan on going in a couple of days then", Fabiola said. "To the lake. There's that nearby lake, Little Blue lake, and I think it would be perfect for Farid to further practice his swimming skills. Don't you think so, Farid?"
"But you should practice a little more first", Tern said to Farid.
"Okay. Practice is nice", Farid said.
"Hey, Fabiola, do you want to race me to the other side of the pool?" Tern asked her, smiling. The day's still young."
"Sure, my boy", Fabiola laughed. They both jumped into the water, at the 7 foot end and then grabbed onto the ledge with their fingers. Farid watched them contentedly.
"We're going to have a race, Farid", Fabolia said. "So set your stopwatch and time us, will you?"
"Okay. Nice idea", Farid said.
"Tell us when to go!" Fabiola said.
Farid waited a few seconds. Then he said, "Go!"
Both Fabiola and Tern dashed off, swimming as fast as they could across the pool. Fabiola reached the end ledge first. Tern soon came after.
"I won!" Fabiola said, pumping her hand into the air with victory. "Ha! I'm the fastest swimmer around here."
All three of them laughed.