|So Swim by Gerard Gotladera|
There was always something beyond the pool. And the tall, tall trees that stood guard around it. And beyond it, deep past the darkness I've known and somewhere farther than what I've explored. And it stares right back at you, that something, comfortably darker than the dark itself yet oddly bright that it stands out, impossible to miss...Eyes...Cold. White. Eyes, with only a drop of what once was some hue. It disappears when you've stared too long, like a blink or a flash of light or an idea so good, so quickly conceived it leaves the moment it comes to life. Too fast it disappears that you'd ask yourself if you've truly seen something, anything...
...I swam through the lunar blue of our pool, feeling my beating heart nestled safe and warm deep in the recesses of muscle, bone and skin. As I rolled through the surface, looking up and stabling myself on the water, I could still feel it and hear it. It had calmed me, this kind of stillness all over, except for the heart. It reminded me, for 17 years, that despite what could've been-should've been, I still am alive.
The moon was watching me, her stars once and a while showing off some glitter as choreographed as most of nature was. And it was beautiful. I was falling asleep, counting stars and proud that I had floated on in such still, unmoved fashion when little waves slowly woke me up. The stars were still there in their stationary dance, the moon mum and watching. Nothing's changed, but there obviously was something different. Some foreign object had disturbed the peace of the waters and it was growing harder. Little waves like ripples were now strong enough to tip my float and force me to get up and check what it was that has disturbed my peace. I swing my legs down and feel my stomach crunch under the weightless water and immediately check around. There was nothing here. And the water too had calmed down.
"Dad?" I called, now suddenly familiar with my own voice. The house was approximately ten long steps from the pool and it was still lit. Dad didn't answer, he wasn't here. Something wasn't right anymore. The top of my ears felt cold and my nape grew tingly. I looked around again, in search for something, anything just to satisfy my curiosity. When I turned to the little woods that framed the back part of our house, I caught a glimpse of an incredibly white object, slicing through a tree and ruffling some plants that lay on the ground. I moved back, feeling my once calm heart race madly inside my chest.
"Who's there?!" The water just rippled, a reaction from my sudden movement and the plants that it had disturbed were slowly heading back to their upright positions. The moon watched on, her stars still glowing and everything else looking at me as if they knew what it was while I feared for my life.
"Hello?" I called, one last time, my voice dying in the open space. I kept my eyes on the tree where the flash of white disappeared and waited long until I memorized how it looked in the dark. I was slowly walking back to the pool's edge to where my towel was and had planned to head back inside as fast as I could. And just as I was about to head up, there it was again, a fast flash of white letting itself in plain sight, like catching a glimpse of a pale, pale foot stepping off past a wall. I think I might've screamed too loud for my own good that in such short notice everyone was outside, my parents, Frank and Polly and our three maids.
"What happened Greg?" My dad asked.
"There's something there-" I pointed and stumbled on my way up the slippery steps of our pool. My mom looked at the tree I was pointing at, gave it a thought and a smile cracked her beautiful 40 year old face.
"Hijo, don't tell me you still believe in that story...Come on...Let's get inside. Jesus Christ, I can't believe my 17 year old Greg is scared of that childhood horror story he used to love..."
"But there really was something there. Do I look like I'm shitting you?"
"Mom he's shaking." Polly felt my shoulders and put on the thick orange towel I kept by me for my swim. My mom went off to frown at my language and gave a short speech about respect. Frank meanwhile, walked to the other side of the pool, looked into that eternal darkness and turned to us, confused.
"Nothing there bud. Maybe it's just your imagination..." Frank said, yawning and bracing his waist. I looked behind Frank and saw nothing but a tree. When we've all decided I was on drugs and that I was crazy, we all headed back inside. By the door I gave the night one last look and saw the pool in ripples and waves dashing towards where the trees were, as if someone had raced through the pool, got up and just disappeared. --- Gerard Gotladera
In a matter of weeks you will definitely get to read the continuation and ending to my first ever short story So Swim. Of course I won't be publishing everything here on Salt. In due time (soon) I will reveal a new project that I've been working on with friends that has also been one of my biggest dreams for years.
One space, many writers both new and known, a theme to lay ground to all such wonderful short stories, ALL written for the sake and love of literature...
Swimming, writing and reading soon...
...READ THE CONTINUATION HERE THE POOL COLLECTIVE