Head Down, Flip Around

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?

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “Head Down, Flip Around

  1. There is absolutely nothing better than that flutter. To me, it is the most special thing in the world. That moment when you first connect. I loved this beautiful post. thank you for sharing.

  2. As my own Michael Phelps does his flip turns in my tummy, I’m going with non fiction. I LOVE how you brought the idea of life and death together here.
    And now I have to get that unforgettable sensation of water up my nose out of my head.

  3. I’m going to guess non-fiction, but whether it is or isn’t I really think that this is a beautiful moment and a lovely take on the prompt. Life-giving water to a tee. 🙂

  4. I’ll guess non-fiction as well 🙂

    You did a really great job building the tension. I had these horrible thoughts that this story was NOT going to end well! But it did 🙂

    I did find the sudden switch from the girl to the woman reminiscing about her brush with death a little sudden. I think it could have used another phrase as a transition.

  5. sharon

    Amy you write so convincingly that I have no idea whether this is fiction or not. But I do remember clearly those early flutters that heralded the more forceful somersaults – and the off the ribs trapeze acts – to follow 😉


  6. Very nicely done.

  7. Jolie

    Your writing is so beautiful! Total non-fiction, and amazing how you make us feel like we are there, in the pool with you. Wonderful!!! Thank you for sharing, as always a pleasure to read.

  8. I love how the phrase “head down, flip around” became the mantra for this piece and then how you tied those two moments together. Great job! Crit wise, watch out for synonyms. One in particular was “heel” vs. “heal”. I think you wanted heel. Beautiful piece overall!

  9. head down, flip around. the end gave me chills. amazing piece here. whether it’s fiction or non, you are gifted and i’m transported to the pool, swimming laps beside her, feeling the flutters of life.

  10. Beautiful. Soft. Touching. Loved it!

  11. You took me back to so many days of swimming in our neighborhood pool and then to those times of first feeling my babies inside. And so gorgeously. Thank you for that. Lovely writing…

  12. Keeping the flutter a secret? I have to say it’s fiction. I don’t see how anyone could do it. You described the need for air right down to the spaghetti feeling.

  13. Going to guess non-fiction.

    I love how it comes full circle from child in the pool to becoming a mom and feeling the baby doing that same motion.

  14. the mantra of “head down, flip around” was one of many things I loved about this post, I loved how it transitioned from one memory of that day in the pool to the baby in her belly. It was seamless and it made me smile.

  15. This was quite well written, especially the first part, I loved her getting disoriented, feeling panic and no one knowing. I did find the transition from her going into lunch and her baby doing flips a little jarring. I think that even one transitional word or phrase would have helped me, something like; ‘now years later she could feel the baby..,”

  16. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this. I love you’re writing so much, I’m glad I get to enjoy these little prompts!

  17. You are such an amazing writer.. I love how that phrase was incorporated throughout the story, for two completely different scenarios… lovelovelove!

  18. What a lovely piece…
    I am so wanting it to be non-fiction…and present tense.

    I am so thrilled that you are linking up with us. You have so much talent, Amy.
    I’m so in love with your voice.

  19. Such amazing images to put next to each other. Loved it.

  20. I like the two scenarios.
    Close to death
    Close to birth

    Well done!

  21. I’m a huge HUGE fan of your writing!!
    I loved how you carried the “head down flip around” throughout.
    Great post

  22. This just took my breath away.
    The memory and the precious secret.
    The continuous refrain.

  23. Patty

    So I’m late reading today but again you’ve written such an interesting story. I think it’s non fiction. Hard to be present tense when you are spending your nights in the lounge chair (which I’m hoping has changed! ). Would have liked a bit of a warning to the transition.

  24. I could read your writing all day. It flows so beautifully across the page. I loved every single bit of this post. I read it through once and then again so I could savor each word.


  25. This is one of those posts that I have no idea if it is fiction or not. If not— Congratulations! If so, really well done. I breathed such a sigh of relief when the girl broke the surface of the water. And the pregnancy was woven in beautifully.

  26. Head down, Flip around is my new motto from now onwards. Lovely writing. I enjoyed reading this post.

  27. Simply beautiful. I love the repetition. A circle of life.

    Not much about pregnancy that I miss, but that flutter is tops on the list for the things I do. So personal and uniquely yours.

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