A girl learns how great her older brother is as she tries to conquer the high dive

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Was I getting in over my head?“Keep an eye on this,” said my older brother, Paul, handing me his watch.

“What for?” I asked, absentmindedly slipping the watch onto my wrist.

“I’m going to practice my diving.”

“Off the high dive?” I asked.

“Sure,” said Paul, grinning. “Want to join me?”

I didn’t answer. Paul knew I was terrified of heights. I could manage the low board, but the high board? Never.

I watched enviously as Paul ambled to the pool and climbed the tower. He padded to the end of the board, paused briefly, and did a perfect jackknife. It looked so easy, and he did it six times.

“Showoff!” I muttered to myself. But I would have given anything to be able to do it myself.

“Hey, why not?” teased a reckless voice in my head. “You’re a good swimmer. Do it just to show Mr. Know-it-all.”

So when Paul came back, dripping water all over me, I said casually, “Guess I’ll take a turn, too.” And before Paul could make some remark, I got to my feet.

As I walked to the tower, my legs didn’t seem to belong to me. I wobbled up the steps to the high dive and forced one foot to follow the other to the end of the rough, clammy board. Then I looked down.

I couldn’t believe how far away the water was. I felt as if I were on the edge of a cliff with a mile of air between me and a bottomless sea. I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. I had to get back down. But there were impatient kids on the steps behind me. Would they let me by, or would they tease me until I made a wrong step? And Paul—even in my terror I dreaded what he would say. All I wanted in the world was to get back to earth, but I was paralyzed.

Dimly I heard Paul shouting far below. “Come down right now! That’s my watch you’re wearing. If you get it wet, you’ll be sorry!”

An unbelievably sweet relief flooded into me. Numbly, I turned and threaded my way through the waiting divers, murmuring, “Excuse me, sorry, I just forgot about the watch. . . .”

I didn’t even bother to pretend with Paul. He said, “I could see that you were in trouble. You were scared to death, weren’t you?” I nodded miserably.

“It happens,” said Paul matter-of-factly. “I was scared, too, the first few times off the high board. I got over it, and so will you. But for now you’re saved.”

I stammered in surprise. “Me? I thought you were worried—I mean, you said you were worried—about your watch.”

Paul retrieved the watch from me and patted it fondly. “This watch,” he said, grinning, “is waterproof.”