The enclosed space of heat and water. The air so thick with chlorine and humidity it’s hard to see the other side. The ceiling feels like it’s hanging too low and closing in. A few glass-topped round tables and chairs are scattered along the side for parents and guests. We’re in the pool at the Holiday Inn and my dad is supposed to be watching us.
I cautiously drift down the stairs, sensing the pull of the water wanting to suck me in. At the bottom, my feet reach for the ground. I feel nothing but space and movement. I know I should not go further. So I hold onto the slippery silver handrail while I kick and flutter. Feeling the warm water moving between my toes and legs.
I look up. My sister’s coming in too. Down the stairs and right into the too deep water without realising the consequences. I hang tightly onto the shiny railing as she grasps at me, trying to get back to safety. Flailing and panicking, she loosens my grip from the handle and we slide into the deep water.
Tenuous. Life is.
We jump in before we know where we’re going.
Sometimes we take those we love most with us.
The water's warm and bubbly.
We bob up and down. Gasping for air.
I know she didn’t mean to get us into this place.
She is holding on with a vice grip. Visceral animal fear. Fighting for her life like all beings do.
I’m trying to swim us back, but I can’t move. I try to scream but it's lost underwater. We’re going under. I’m gasping water. Thinking it's the end. I love my sister, but I can’t save us.
If only she hadn’t jumped in.
I keep remembering this. Like a feedback loop. She didn’t mean to. We are drowning and nothing can be done.
We are still in the pool. Treading water. Trying to save our lives.
She goes, and I go. I won't push her off and let her drown.
Just when I think we took our last breath, someone jumps in and pulls us out of the pool. It is not the end after all. We get another chance.