by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
This is my response to a Writing Prompt from Writer’s Digest Community last year.
GONE SWIMMING: You and a friend break into your neighborhood swim club late one night to go for an after-hours dip. While splashing around in the pool, you go into shock when a dead body floats to the top. Worse yet – it’s someone you know.
It was perfect. I laughed a conquering laugh, having made it to the other side of the fence without getting caught. My limbs showed the light scratches of the chain-link we just scaled, landing on the damp cement with the quiet of a cat burglar. Joanie called me to wait.
Instead I ran full force, leaping into the enveloping wetness. It felt oddly warm for this time of night, this time of year. Perhaps the snow made it welcoming; 65 degrees in winter is much more appreciated than 65 degrees in summer.
Joanie beckoned me to stay in her frantic presence. I refused her again; reveling in the anti-gravity element. I climbed out only for an Olympic-sized belly flop. I welcomed the shattering pain and dove deeper into tumbles and other gymnastics I learned a lifetime ago. It was easy to drift, knowing I couldn’t get far. Until temptation began its slow tingling crawl into my determination. I kicked and pulled away from the buoyancy in a need to feel the boundaries of my surroundings.
The waters overtook me and I found myself floundering, not knowing which way was up or how much further I could sink. I was startled to feel Joanie’s grip on my arm, pulling me into a lighter darkness, away from the depths and into the moonlight. It was colder in the air above. I shivered as Joanie’s terrified eyes glazed. Without turning, I became aware of a presence following me up from the deeper dark: a body rising to the surface.
It was a wreck. Torn, bloodstained clothes. Terrible scrapes and deep, penetrating cuts on its arms and legs. As I concentrated on the ghastly wounds covering its head, Joanie’s grip released and I was sickened to be drifting closer to the mess before me. The bloodwater threatened to engulf me completely.
There was no spasm, no terrible calamity. Just a slow, methodical turn as the body brought its face to sight. I recognized the body, the face, as my own. I looked at my scrapes from the fence. Blood flowed rapidly from nearly every wound. I felt so dizzy. Was I floating? Or falling? I could feel nothing but the collision of my body becoming one with this, my body, in the cold dark waters.
The pool waters turned thick and red. Joanie fell a world away. Was she still reaching? I could no longer feel or hear her. She was quickly vanishing into a vision blurring into a dream. A very dark dream.
Joanie and I, driving in the wet cold; halfway between dinner and doorway. The flakes came at us like we were tunneling through a pillow fight; thick and unique. We celebrated in our excitement.
The fence transformed into heavy, crunching metal as I flew from its grasp into the water turned to blood, my blood. My body and I collided to welcome each other and sank into the dark tranquility. It was perfect.
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!
This was awesome! I wanted to do something with this prompt, but after reading your story, I don’t think mind would have been as good. I like your perspective, and even though you told us in the beginning that the swimmer would be finding their own body, I love how everything came together. :-)