Swimming had always come easy for the girl. It was really the only thing she was good at. She loved the sensation of floating. Her chubby pre-teen body, weightless, as only one can be in a pool of azure blue. The noises around her drowned out by the water lapping at her ears. Her hair, a medusa’s coil snaking its way around her head. She was water itself when she swam.
She could spend hours in the pool, performing mid-water somersaults. Head down, flip around, as her toes would break the surface. Head down, flip around, she used to chant to herself as she gracefully twirled head over heel. Head down, flip around, until she couldn’t hold her breath anymore and had to come up for air.
Head down, flip around, she wanted to see how many times she could somersault in her cousin’s above-ground pool. Everyone had already gone in for lunch. Head down, flip around, she kept going, even when she felt her lungs begin to burn. They had left her there, alone, knowing she was the strongest swimmer of them all.
Head down, flip around until she needed to break the surface, but couldn’t find her way up. She felt a scream reach her lips, but how do you scream underwater? Head down, flip around, she’d flipped so many times, she’d become disoriented. What if she couldn’t find her way to the surface?
Head down, flip around, her lungs felt like they were going to burst. She needed oxygen so badly, she had to fight the urge to inhale. Head down, flip around, she started to panic. She twisted corkscrew-like until she could gain purchase on the bubbles and project herself upwards. Head down, flip around, she could see the sun’s distortion above her as she twisted. The sudden streak of light guiding her way back to the surface.
With a gasp, she broke the surface, just as her mom called her in for lunch. She felt wobbly, like cooked spaghetti, her arms barely able to paddle through the water. It took all her strength to pull herself up the ladder. She sat on the step and breathed deeply, trying to shake off some of the fright. Her mom called to her again and she slowly got off the ladder and made her way inside.
Head down, flip around, she could feel the baby fluttering in her belly. The tiny bumps, almost like butterfly wings against her abdomen. Head down, flip around, she knew her baby girl was doing somersaults, graceful twists over and over and over again.
She delighted in the sensation and hadn’t yet told her husband that she could feel the baby inside her, flipping like an Olympic hopeful. Head down, flip around, suddenly she thought about that day in her cousin’s pool and wondered how she had found her way to the surface.
Head down, flip around, she coveted this time when she could feel the life inside her. She would wait, at least a few more weeks, maybe more, before she told anyone of the wing-like sensation in her belly.
Head down, flip around, she had never told anyone about that day in her cousin’s pool. The sudden streak of sunlight that had guided her upwards out of the darkness. Head down, flip around, maybe she would keep her aquatic dancer a secret as well.
Head down, flip around, she smiled as a streak of sunlight cut across her wavering belly.
Head down, flip around, maybe some things aren’t meant to be shared.
This post was written for The Red Dress Club’s weekly prompt. This week was: Water gives life. It also takes it away. Fiction or Non-fiction. 600 word limit.
Critiques are always welcome – my question to you – fiction or non-fiction?