- Vol. 03
- Chapter 03
Image by Ville Miettinen
A Slow Drowning And Then A LeapHe had always had a fear of water. His father once tried to take him to the swimming pool to help him get over it. It was a quiet affair. He listened to the muffled echoes of other children having fun while he perched, his toes dabbling in the tiny eddies formed by his uncertainty. The sign informed him that this was the shallow end but bellybutton deep was too deep for him. He watched his father lean close to the lifeguard, his elbow resting against the very edge of her elbow. She was blonde and had a pert nose that the boy could imagine sliding down and falling from with a painful splash. 'Go on', his father said. 'Go on. Aren't you lucky that you have Anya here looking out for you?'
Anya did not seem like a stroke of luck. Anya was probably only ten years older than he was. At the very most. When they got home, he watched his mother's eyes turn red and puffy and he guessed that it must have been the chlorine in his father's hair. Some smells did that to her, like an allergic reaction: the smell of the bakery, the gym. It made the boy's eyes sting too.
There was a kind of water lapping at his mother, a cruel water that washed her adrift sometimes at the kitchen table, not speaking, not blinking. He'd watched programmes on drowning people. Sometimes they tried to drink the seawater but they weren't supposed to and it made them sick. He thought that tea might be better. It was all that he could offer her: a brimming mug and a little wet circle left on the countertop. Not like a smiley face; like a vicious circle. He'd heard that said. People can go round and round in the same place and slowly get sucked down. Like whirlpools. He'd seen programmes on whirlpools too.
'We need a break.' His father announced. 'A change of scenery.'