Treading Water in a Sea of Consciousness
Everything matches. Towel, suit, goggles and swim cap. Even her anklet is the same shade of blue. She will blend in, become one with the water, in hue at least. Creeping along the pool deck, she longs to remain unnoticed. Her eyes dart about, taking in the potential audience. Three other swimmers in the pool, all in the fast lanes, and a few yawning lifeguards. With a deep breath, she feigns confidence, head up with an air of authority.
Sitting at pool edge she lets her legs dangle in, coolness of the water washing over her knees. It’s colder than she remembers, but then, it has been a while. As she swishes goggles in the blueness, she looks down at herself. Scarred and stretch marked, her body a battle zone. She gazes upon the water pooling around her legs, the coolness awakening something within. Her muscles twitch in memory of time spent in constant motion. She closes her eyes briefly and takes another deep breath, not of confidence but repression.
A hazy memory clings to present day. One last race, a short distance triathlon, before focusing on her ever-growing abdomen. A zebra mussel starts it all on the beach – cut foot crammed into less than clean bike shoes. Searing pain subdues the run, a quiet ambush of training. A crimson silhouette creeps along her sole, with a warmth not suitable for walking. Then sudden illness, things turn grey. Rhythmic beeping from the bedside, shadow figures loom nearby. A vague sense of words. Sepsis. Amputation. Her world becomes dark. Unconscious. Decisions made. Her unborn seized too soon. Infections follow. Cries of the future shall not be heard.
She awakes to tragedy.
Goggles adjusted, she spies something to the side of the pool deck and pauses. Slowly gathering herself she stands, saunters over and selects a kickboard. Blue, like everything else. Back to the water’s edge, she unfolds herself into the water.
It’s a struggle, exhausting. The kickboard was a good idea. Despite the agony in her lungs, her limbs, she is delighted to be active again. To feel pain for reason and purpose rather than just part of her everyday existence. One lap completed, she stands at the end of the lane to catch her breath.
She carries on in this manner, one lap after another, clinging to the kickboard and pausing for rest at the end of each turn. More alive with each passing. More like the self she thought she had left behind.