This summer I am swimming. The passive form of swimming, that is. The brief moment between sinking and floating. When the air in your lungs is enough to keep you still, encapsulated in quiet water, like a gelatin mold, but not yet enough to draw you up to the surface, not yet enough to be buoyant, not yet enough to find the air again. This summer I am swimming.
My limbs are barely moving, like branches against the weakest of winds. My eyes are closed against the sting of the chemicals. My toes scrape the bottom. And at any point I know I could just exhale and sink – slowly, suspending gravity just enough to ease the speed of the fall. Sink and lay weightlessly against the bottom of whatever pool it is that I’m swimming in. Sink and open my eyes to look up to the surface. The sting from the chlorine the only thing then left to feel.
Or, of course, I could swim up. Break the stillness and push my way back to the surface. Breathe another breath and keep kicking these legs to stay afloat. Wipe water from my eyes and see what waits above the pool. Pick a direction and arrow my arms towards it. Pick a direction and hope it doesn’t get deeper on the way.
But for now I’m just swimming. Passing. Drifting. Wandering. Wondering. Using up the last few moments of the breath I breathed some time ago. Wishing the whole damn pool would freeze over and I wouldn’t have to choose. Stuck in that perfect stillness forever. Like a fossil to be studied. A fossil of a girl to whom both living and dying seemed frivolous and odd. A girl made of equal parts sadness and joy and whimsy and compulsion. A girl who was lost and found at the very same time and did not yet know how that could be true. A girl who kept her eyes closed. A girl who was swimming.