• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 10
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To Those Proud Mums and Those Kids of Theirs

For 8 years, I pretended to swim. Their kids, their
mothers said, can swim in the deep end. Well this
was too much for my mother, and she’d heard
enough of what her kid couldn't do, and that,
she said, was going to change. So I’m standing there
at the YMCA’s pool, like a Harpie-heathen while

Mum is watching from the observation deck, while
I shiver in my pink polka-dot cossie, standing there
sniffling up a nostrilful of chlorine perfume that
stiffens me into panic. The instructor yells, I heard
her, but can’t move. Kids diving in head-first, this
way and that, and splashing their feet and their

arms, but freeze like winter. Cheers, claps, their
mums're so proud, my mum's shaking her fist, this
scene is too much for her to take — I once heard
that it’s dead people who always float. I’m 8 — that
is too young to be floating dead, but where there
is a will … so I jump, shallow end, toes planted while

my arms and hands motor along. I’m running while
pretending to swim. My chin steady, right there
above the waves that lap under my nose that
now threaten to drown me. And that’s when I heard
my mum — Swim, my darling, swim! Buoyed by this,
I run faster, and splash better than all of theirs.

Pfffft, to those proud mums and those kids of theirs,
because swimming is really just as easy as this.