By Corey Erwin
It appeared before him with no warning, but why should it warn, it wasn’t as if it was world rocking, or even very obvious. He’d worked at, and watched, that pool for hours beyond how much he cared to count. Before he saw it he’d counted the hours in the warm room as wasted, and often did he try to offset this waste by contemplating what he would say were important questions. But in truth, no matter how hard he tried to think, to really think, he always drifted, usually quickly, into thoughts that he would say weren’t worth his time, were a waste.
His first thought on seeing it –a ripple, rolling and then dissolving into this slice of still water well before it should – was that he was hallucinating; he’d even tell you he tried to shake his head to stop it. But that wouldn’t have worked anyway. After his unsuccessful attempts at shaking it out, he stared at it, hoping to see the patterns in the pool that would make it possible, though he would say he glanced at it infrequently. His justifying thoughts turned to the way water droplets of water can roll across a glassy body of water momentarily before absorbing. But this was, in truth, nothing like that, and he would say he came to that conclusion rather quickly; although he did some researching that night to be certain it wasn’t something that happened often.
He did think about it the whole time he was at the pool that day. But when he went home he still wasn’t sure he hadn’t imagined the whole thing, and didn’t give much weight to the thing in general. Once his research on the water phenomena concluded he went to bed. Though he’d say he couldn’t sleep as he thought about it, he slept easily. To be fair though, he did dream furiously, and about the water too. His dreams vacillated that night, though he’d say he dreamt only of it, between it and the girl he often thought about when he was watching the pool.
At first he was staring at it from his stand. There was no one in the pool so he got up and went to the pool’s edge, reaching out to try to touch it, even if only momentarily. Somehow he knew, he’d say, that if only he could touch it, he would understand it, which was actually not far from the truth. But every time he dipped his fingertips into the water it was just a littler further away, just out of reach. The final time he reached out, it sunk down below the surface he had spotted it on. So he pushed his whole hand in, then his arm, reaching for it. Finally, with his face just breaking the surface of the water, his fingertip glanced what could be called its edge, and as it did, he was pulled beneath the water into the edge he’d touched.
Suddenly, there was a hand holding his.
And there he was, sitting with her, it was nowhere familiar to him, but he’d say that he knew it to be the office he took his breaks in. She’d pulled him from the water, from it, to sit here with her as she confessed her love for him, but in truth he only questioned her: about how he got here, why she took him from it, if she felt about him the same way he felt about her, and finally, how he could get back to it. She answered with all the answers he wanted to hear, but as soon as he tried to learn about the water, and getting back to it, she closed her mouth, gripped his hand and waited for him to move on. But he kept asking to get back, although he’d say he convinced her to help him. He even reached out to grab her in anger and suddenly he was in the water looking up at the surface that he had reached through. This time it was at the surface, but still just out of reach. He swam, clawed at the water and at it sitting on top unperturbed. But he got nowhere and slowly experienced drowning.
When we woke in the morning he remembered only bits, though he’d say he recalled it all if it was told to him. He coughed, forced himself to in fact, just to make sure he hadn’t drowned, and he’d say he coughed up some water. He got himself ready for another day at the pool, but was unnerved at the thought of going back into the pool; he’d say he was just excited to see if it was still there though. When he walked into his break-room a voice he found to be comforting and that stirred strong emotions he’d call love, called for him to come give a hug.
He’d say she was the most beautiful girl in the world, he’d even say that to her, and that he only thought of her, though he wouldn’t say that to her. But in truth, he, like anyone his age, couldn’t claim to not look at others. It didn’t much matter to her though, she liked him in virtually the same way he did her, but she didn’t say the things he did to her.
Before he had to go watch the pool again, which he was nervous about, he decided to talk to her about his dreams. He told the parts he thought wouldn’t embarrass them both, but felt he’d cheated her somehow. This prompted him to ask her the questions he did in his dream. He’d say his dream reminded him he should tell her his feelings, but in truth he was afraid he’d never get another opportunity after going into the pool again. He told her to that he thought he loved her, but he’d say he only told her he had feelings for her. And she would say she played it calm and said that she liked him too, but in truth she jumped up to him and lightly kissed him before going into the other pool.
Shaking with excitement he went to his pool as well. But pushing through the double doors his fear hit and swept over him at the same time and with the same intensity that the warm air did. He looked to his hand and imagined hers pulling him into the pool, felt a bit stronger and took watch over the people there. They dawdled through, and he was left staring at it again, this time sure it wasn’t a hallucination.
He just stared at this glimmer for a while, this slit, this sliver, this slip, this tear, this crease, this fold, this rift. He was torn between just leaving the pool and trying to touch it, which at this point terrified him, though he’d say that he wasn’t considering leaving and wasn’t scared at all. But there he sat, studying it. Of the terms he considered, all worked to describe it, but rift seemed to fit it, though in truth he hardly cared what he called it.
It was simply described as a line through one body of water that caused the already still water to appear even more motionless on the side closest to the stand. But simple was the one thing it wasn’t. He reached out finally, with imaginary encouragement from her, and tried to touch it, but as he did it moved farther away, though it didn’t seem to move at all he would have said it was more like his perceptions, his perspective of it changed. In truth, he touched it. In truth he was protecting himself – protecting it – because he had touched it the night before and it was then that he reached out. It was then that he learned what he would have said and would have done, and decided what he would say, and would do.