Here At The Bottom
I’ve been down here for a while. The water no longer cold to the touch. Either it’s warming up, or I’m just used to it now.
I’m half-crouched, half-squatting here at the bottom of the pool, at the deepest corner, everything slowed down. This one breath spun out thin. It’s quiet, here, and loud. Everything that happens in the water, everything that happens around it. The blood rushing in my ears. A constant low roaring, childish voices turned to bass vibration.
So not quiet, quite. Maybe just alone.
From above, the water is always blue, but spend enough time under the surface and you remember that that’s an illusion; a reflection of the sky. From here, the water is clear. The sky brilliant white.
A shadow moves across me. One of the kids in silhouette on the surface, lissom with light refracted. Jane? My teenage daughter, probably still angry with me over something.
Although from down here, it’s hard to tell. It could be my wife. Probably still angry with me over something.
Blood roaring in my ears; people drifting past, oblivious to me… Like being at a dinner party.
I wave one hand up toward whoever it is. Not really trying to get their attention, I think. The water messes with distance – my arm looks too long and thin, my hand small, and it looks like I can close the distance, grab at an ankle, while at the same time they seem very far away.
If it’s Jane or Jenny, the old-school ankle-grab wouldn’t go down too well. We all used to enjoy it, years back, but now only the younger ones see the fun in it. Maybe I’ll catch one of them later.
I’m not sure that I was even waving, really. I may just have been moving with the current.
I watch them swimming up there for a minute, and then turn my attention back to the tile around me. I wipe at tiny air bubbles with my fingers, and they dance away from me, some skitching across the smooth ceramic, others fluffing up around and above me. I grin, and tiny bubbles leave the crease of my mouth, joining them.
There always seem to be more of those tiny pops of air down here. No matter how many you shift. I noticed that for the first time when I was a kid.
I close my eyes, meditating. Or at least, I’ve never learned how to meditate, but this is what I’ve always imagined it’d be like.
I wonder what dad used to do down here? Maybe he closed his eyes, shut us all out.
It’s him I picked this up from. Back in the city, when I was a kid, he’d take me to the rec center for the pool, and once I was settled in he’d pick a corner, grab a breath, and sink to the bottom. Thinking back I must not be remembering it right, but it’d seem to me that he’d be down there for the whole time we were there.
Later, when business got good and they bought this place, he’d spend hours diving in, sinking down, and sitting where I’m sitting. Maybe to get away from me and my mother.
Thank god they’re touring Europe all summer. Glad to not have to deal with their poisonous bullshit.
I feel like I should be hungry, and that in turn makes me feel hungry. Maybe I should drift up there, make an effort with my family, grab some lunch.
Eyes open again, and I look back up to the light. I can hear the kids laughing, now. Way down at the far end of the pool, the surface explodes downward, a billion points of light, as one of them jumps in, or gets pushed.
Mikey, his little limbs flailing about, painting shapes of air into the water around him. A huge grin on his face.
He doesn’t look in my direction.
Huh. Maybe they really don’t know I’m down here. Great.
It’s been three weeks.
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