The Proper Respect for Water by Rosaleen Lynch, Flash Fiction Semi-Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020
The Proper Respect for Water
My father taught me how to swim. In the sea, so salt would buoy me up. But there was too much water for a girl to breathe. It didn’t let go or slow or stop. So I did. Let it rock and hold me up. Instead of struggling with tides and currents too powerful for me to swim. And every summer we’d try again.
Once at the municipal pool, waves of people wash and splash past me until I’m pulled under by a boy. I tell him he killed me. That I died when my head submerged and when I hit the bottom, I came to life again. I emerged, unseen by the lifeguard on watch, floating under him like an iceberg frozen still. He did not see me until my breasts grew in.
I’ve no fear of kayaking or white-water rafting. A life-jacket keeps me safe. I have the proper respect for water. A sailor’s savvy. Stay in the boat. Wear your buoyancy-aid. Keep others from the harm of going after you. Ship’s rails prevent people from going overboard. Water stretches wide. We can’t swim home from the middle of the sea. But we can float. My father taught me how to float, and I taught myself to swim.