Subaqueous | Teen Ink


February 4, 2021
By lauracarter BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
lauracarter BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The sun blazed a burnished looking, sparkly light. It was wholly glossy and red and sickly hot against the frail blue sky which fumed up against the edges of the brilliant star. Silky white and lite, the few clouds continued on as they usually did and the trees sweated a summery perfume and shifted away from the sweltering heat. The grass professed a fecund, leafy green but was miserably wilted and crushed like ash under any sort of pressure in the particularly hot spots. Satin waves of heat encased the earth and everything on it for as far as the eye could see, creating visible movement in the air. Everything seemed as if it might altogether decide to flare up and burn itself to nothingness. 

All that is to say: it was a dreadful summer day. 

The woman sat on the concrete edge of the clean blue pool for a hellish moment; with the heat singeing her skin painfully. She threw herself forwards into the pool and immersed herself under its smooth, cool water. The disturbance rippled the surface in slow motion, the water refusing to bend in a natural way with the muggy fever of the day. The woman kicked her legs swiftly and arched her neck--as though imitating a giraffe--and burst through the liquid ceiling to gulp down breaths of the sticky summertime air. She moved to the shallower end of the pool and touched her toes down. The bottom of the pool was slick, glass tile, laced in some filmy coating that wafted up when muddled--the pool needed to be cleaned.

The woman threaded her fingers through her hair and pulled, water dripping down her baking arms to meet the undulating pool which lapped at her sides just above her waist. She sighed and turned onto her back, eyes blinking in the brightness of the day. She let herself float there for a moment, a dark shape casting a shadow onto the pool floor, and then turned and dove under, deaf under the glistening facet of invigorating coolness. She kept her eyes shut tight--she had never managed to get used to the chlorine--and trailed her fingers along the bottom, searching--though for what she wasn’t sure. She reached the deepest part and slammed her feet down hard, slipping a little, and lurched upwards, eyes shut tight, with no idea whatsoever of where the surface was. Her ears were throbbing from the sudden change in pressure and her lungs cramping, lusting for air. 

The sudden need to break through could only be described as perfectly dark and panicked and horrifying. She must have been close to the surface--she was sure of that--although her mind was glazed in an unwelcome cloud of primal alarm. She desperately attempted to keep moving but every aspect of her was proceeding reluctantly, slowly, laboriously. She was a woman of some height and quite agile, she’d been able to swim for as long as she could remember. Now it seemed insurmountable. She was hopeless. And oh, what a dreadful way to go!  It was all so unnerving, depressing, practically petrifying. She could barely advance. She clung to humor, to delusion. This must’ve been a sickening joke, a bad dream. Perhaps she’d had something funny for dinner last night or for breakfast--wait. 

If this was a dream why could she remember breakfast--even if vaguely, just the notion of having eaten something that morning. And it came to her, clear as the day that was surely still as blindingly visible somewhere above the pool, a weight in her stomach. Her body jolted down, her arm thrashed up, briefly and desperately controlling itself, and she felt air on her hand. She couldn’t have been more than a few feet from life. Air on her skin was intoxicating, she felt as if she might cry. But any consciousness she’d had left her as if someone had dropped a brick on her head and she sunk down. 

The man returned home. Mopping sweat from his brow, lunch sack bouncing against his leg as he walked, humming a tune that he couldn’t quite place. The sun shone more dully now and filtered a warm orange light through the dark outlines of the oaks along the sidewalk. He’d closed up the corner store properly and, in his pleasantly content summer state, that was enough to make him merry. He paused his humming, laughed to himself, and began to whistle. Someone drove past in a clattering, old car down the center of the cobblestone road and he waved to them absently, entranced by the humidity and the scent of lavender. He pivoted on the heels of his polished shoes and opened the gate, primed for a quiet evening on the veranda out by the pool. With his lovely wife. He imagined how the glow of the sunset’s light would look cascading down his wife’s face and continued his tune. He imagined the taste of some mellow, dulcet wine and the feeling of cool water on his toes as they sipped their nightcaps and watched the sun retire. 

He entered the house and kicked off his shoes, grappling with one hand at his socks, tripping over himself as he made his way to the kitchen. He set down his lunch and fetched some glasses and an enticing looking crimson wine from the cabinet. He strode out towards the pool house, shreds of grass sticking to his bare feet, and clinked the glasses together so they made a little twinkling sound that mimicked the birds. The pool glittered an enchanting cerulean and there was his wife, floating along the bottom, probably trying to retrieve some penny she’d tossed in. He watched her angelic movement along the bottom of the pool for a few moments and marveled at what the size of her lungs must have been to stay under for that long. 

Then he got concerned. She’d barely twitched. Her caramel skin seemed deathly pale. Her midnight hair curled deviously around her face. Her body rolled and there she was. Eyelids drifted apart, mouth gaping slightly open, no air escaped her. He dove in fully clothed. He made himself pry his eyes open, they stung with chemicals and tears. She was a massive load in his arms, her limbs with minds of their own, contorting in the water. He thrusted her onto the hot concrete edge of the pool and climbed out. His clothes were soaked through, the wine and glasses had shattered a little while off. Blood red liquid seeping into the cracks in the pool deck, into the water. His mind was numb but anguished. What was he to do? There was nothing he could. 

The shards winked at him in the sun. The wine glistened a pretty, fatal scarlet. His hand moved without his conscious permission. The glass cut his fingers. He brought it to his neck, vacant. Thirty seconds of hell, that would be all. He made quick work, drawing a deep, thin line across his throat. They sat together, feet dangling over the edge, lolling in the water. Red ran from his neck and stained his clothes, his eyes held open, blank, expressing nothing in their emptiness. She lay beside him, waterlogged, black hair in streams along the concrete, splayed out, facing the sky. They watched the sunset together, beside the wine and the pool, the light in thin, ghostly sheets across their faces.

All that is to say: it was a dreadful summer day.

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