For some of us, learning to swim is actually learning how not to drown.
There were sharks in the pool, I was certain. And if not sharks, perhaps something worse. Maybe some terrible shapeless creature was hiding, waiting beneath the drain at the bottom and would emerge large, angry, and very very hungry. I would be swallowed. I would be lost.
“Get into the pool.”
No one, not parent or sibling, seemed to sense how chock full of monsters this world is. Evil creatures were everywhere. They stared from closets and cupboards, reached out from under the bed and behind shower curtains. They shadowed the dark corners of the garage and -at night- they wandered the backyard haunting the willow tree, teasing the dog. And they were without question in the pool.
“I said jump into the pool, Shane. Now!” I could hear her anger redden. That was not good.
My skinny body shivered. What a choiceless choice - to be stuck between aquatic monsters and a rageful mother. I became frozen there at the edge of the pool, too scared to even beg.
Until the kick. The blunt shock of the pain pushed my body where my will would not- could not- take it: into that other shock and the hard slap of water.
[photo by Shane Convery]