The Deep

The Deep by Anthony Doerr

Fourteen year-old Tom is walking along the lane thinking spring happens whether you’re paying attention or not; it happens beneath the snow, beyond the walls—spring happens while you dream—when Ruby Hornaday steps out from the weeds. She has a shriveled rubber hose coiled over her shoulder and a swim mask in one hand and a tire pump in the other.

Ruby pitches the far end of the hose into the water, with waxed cord she binds the other end to the pump. Then she fills her pockets with rocks. She wades out, looks back at Tom and reminds him You pump and puts the hose into her mouth The swim mask goes over her eyes; her face goes into the water. The marsh closes over Ruby’s back and the hose trends away from the bank. Tom begins to pump, one minute two minutes after four or five minutes underwater, Ruby comes up. A neon mat of algae clings to her hair and her bare feet are great boots of mud. Strings of saliva hang off her chin. Her lips are blue. “Incredible” pants Ruby, “frickin’ incredible!”