The End-of-the-World Pool
by Scott M. Roberts
"So. Birthday dare. Something egregious," Grant said.
"Egregious," Evan murmured. A fat wasp droned over his chest. Evan swatted it
away before it could land on him. "Outlandish."
"Wild," Grant said.
"Egregious doesn't mean crazy."
"Sure it does." The wasp came back. Evan picked one of his sneakers off, slashed
at it, and connected. The wasp's body arched high, caught the breeze, and fell into
And now Grant was looking at the scummy pool, his mismatched eyes glittering.
Evan knew that look. He waited for the words.
"I dare you," Grant said.
"I'll go get my trunks." A couple of years ago, Evan had eaten a grasshopper for
his birthday dare. No matter how much scum was on the top of the pool, it couldn't
be more disgusting than a grasshopper wriggling and spitting and kicking in his
"No," said Grant. "No trunks."
Evan rolled his eyes. He'd gone skinny dipping in the pond behind Janie
Winecke's house in fourth grade. Three years, a hundred years ago.
"In your underwear." Grant said.
Somehow, going in wearing his underwear was even more obscene than going in
with nothing at all. Evan stared at the water, at the brown and green flotillas of
algae, imagined them clinging to his skivvies. "Egregious," he muttered, and
kicked off his other shoe.
Grant whooped and began giving details. "You have to dive all the way in, no
panty-waist, tiptoey, dippy dunk. And you have to swim all the way down, in the