It’s unbearably cold outside, especially since it’s nighttime, and I’m only wearing a swimsuit. I quickly walk from the pool house to the hot tub, jumping with every step from the cold tile. I sit on the concrete edge, putting my feet cautiously in the scalding water. At first, it’s as intolerable as the cold. For a moment, I wonder if it’s worth it, but I’m already here and the cold air seems worse than the hot water somehow. I manage to dip my other foot in and slowly I slide down to the concrete ring below the water that serves as a seat.
            Ecstasy. The rest of my body is submerged in the roaring, boiling bubbles. I childishly pretend I’m a water bender who’s manipulating the currents of water underneath the surface. It almost takes my mind off the events of the evening. I look over towards the house. This hot tub serves as a throne, boldly overlooking not only the pool, the pool house, and the house itself, but also the acres of woods that surround the property. The cicadas and frogs join me in my meditation, making noise without any modicum of self-control. I wonder if the barn cat knows where the noises come from.
            I didn’t even notice that I subconsciously took my eyes off the house. I think I didn’t want to see any members of my extended family through the windows, out of fear that they would make eye contact with me and come talk to me. Somehow, me being alone out here is worse, because they might be talking about me inside the house over ice cream.
            “So she’s doing really well in school, huh?” my grandfather asks my father. My father looks down at his bowl of vanilla, answering the question without making eye contact. From across the room, my mom yells “THEY!” and shakes her head, feeling confident in her correction while simultaneously not remembering that she said “she” an hour before.
            I stop the horrid wheel of my brain and look up at the stars. I quickly find Orion in the night sky. Staring up into space, I realize that I miss gazing upwards. Here, far away from the city, it’s so easy to see the stars. Letting the heat from the water soothe me, I close my eyes, leaving Earth behind me, and slowly drift away into space.