‘He stopped swimming, and floated. Just held himself there, in the middle of the pool. His body was very long. I watched him closely, just a long thin line of body in the middle of the pool, broken by the blue of his bathers. Then I imagined the bathers gone. It was easy, really, but almost unbearable. And then he started to swim again, towards me, then tumbled over at the end, and started up the other way. And he kept on and on. It was good to watch. Mesmerising. But it was just that. Over and over. I became a little bored. Maybe not bored, but it wasn’t going anywhere, so I went inside and ordered a beer, and a sandwich. I took it back out to the pool, to where I’d been sitting. The same place. But it had all changed. The water was flat and still. Empty. He was gone, the swimmer. Finished up and left. In the small time it’d taken to go inside and order some food and a beer, he’d gone, and I’d missed him. He’d climbed out of the pool, and pulled his goggles back to the top of his head, maybe. Standing there dripping, looking around. He must have grabbed his towel from one of the loungers, and gone back inside, into his room, to sleep or to masturbate, or just listen to music, or read. And if I hadn’t been at the bar, ordering the beer and the sandwich, I could have started talking to him, telling him what a great swimmer he was. What a great swimmer he is. It’s a good reason to start talking to someone. He’s a terrific swimmer. Who wouldn’t want to hear something like that? But, I don’t know. I missed him. I watched him all that time, then I just go to get something to quench my thirst, and… nothing. Well, that’s the way it goes. Still, it puzzles me, sometimes. I don’t always get it, the way life works out. It must be meant to be. That’s the consolation. It’s meant to be. Designed. It’s not much, though.’
© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2014.