Water ii (Salt)

There is a small window close to the roof, about two feet in height, that runs along the perimeter of the swimming pool. Light shines in, reaches this large iron support of the roof, bars that seem twisted cross angularly and support each other, and the shadows fall on the tile floor in large stripes. The light refracts in the water. Large families stood by the lockers and stacked their possessions with wet hands until someone removed a brave arm and shut it with great speed to stop stuff falling out, an older woman takes the key.

Sam stood at the edge of the pool. A fat man in his forties sat with his arms crossed over the water and three little girls ran in circles in the jacuzzi behind him. Sam stood a little over half-way down the pool, the child’s pool empty behind him. He looked into middle distance. The swimmers passed by, heads afloat, straining to look up, submerged black heads capped with black hair caps. The echoes a constant drill, or the construction of a cave, small girls voices were pulled through but indistinct, small waves slow back into the water.

Thick drops falling from his fringe Kerin’s skin became cold and the fine dark hairs on his body stood on end. He stood several feet behind Sam, in a wet and humid space between the jacuzzi and the wall of the steam room, staring between the pointed blades of Sam’s shoulders and the lateral edge of the water. And the large windows that let light in, outside cars moved in closed spaces and among their occupants there was little sign of prior segregation, people long ignoring the layout of the building intending to not let them in, the contagion of defects long since disproved.

The balls of Kerin’s feet were all grip on a surface that pulled back, he ran to the pool, close by Sam as in passing him, his skin firm, slipping his last step and his body hanging parallel to the water before falling, contorted and strange before the crash. Sam stepped the few steps to the edge of the pool, the water lapping at his toes, covering his feet. Kerin surfacing from the thick water inhaling deep, using both hands to push it from his hair. Leaning over the pool and gripping not to fall Sam watched the muscles of Kerin’s arms become defined. Sam crouched without sitting.
—Faggot. Sam said.
He thought about diving. He saw his body flat and his stomach ripped open on impact, floating in salt water. But that was a long time ago, and not something to worry about. Sam rolled in the pool. All his movements were realised as failing before execution – the water wrapped around his stomach.
Kerin swam, coming up for air with strained deep-breaths that sounded entirely in the throat. A fat woman in a purple and blue bathing suit, painted in rips, and her daughter, walked along the side of the pool, passing Sam’s back raised and smooth and torn like a floating apple as he floated lifeless, his head underwater, arms outstretched, elbows surfaced, limp. The daughter tried to run ahead, holding the woman’s hand. Their feet pressed flat against the surface of the pool so as to walk on water. Sam’s lower back began to surface, small tides washing against his hair, he tried to stand unaware of how deep the water was, catching himself off guard shocked and struggling until he swung his arms wildly breathing deep painful breaths. The large woman helped her daughter into the jacuzzi and didn’t take notice of him.

—What do you wanna do? Kerin was stood above Sam at the side of the pool, dripping down on him. Sam rubbed the water out of his eyes, red and burnt a little, a little out of breath.
—I don’t know, I thought we could maybe just swim around a bit… We could get something to eat, a burger or something.
—Yeah, I think I’m going back in for a bit.
Kerin walked on the balls of his feet with his arms outstretched to the end of the adult pool where a raised platform separated the adult and child pools, his legs weak on the floor that felt as though it was rising. A few children bounced around their parents in the shallow end while older people swam around them, warming up to lengths. Under half a dozen people in dark suits partially underwater, glossy at best, submerged the same. Kerin stepped back as far as the surface would allow then ran and threw himself into the pool. Sam felt the spray on his arm growing cold across the tile.

Fully immersed, held under, both Kerin’s arms and legs were broken, his body weak. Dark skin stuck like a rock to the bottom, his hair appeared as though on glass slides. Although the image was broken it was smooth, in part part of the warmth is felt. The shape began to move and rise to the surface, Kerin emerged with soft breath and water and air sprayed between his lips. —Oi. Rang through Sam, Kerin’s swimming shorts hitting him in the face, for a seconded blinded by the burning chlorine. Sam threw the shorts slap against the surface of the water, rubbed his eyes and laughed a little. —The string thing caught me in the fucking eye.
—Heught. Water in the laugh Kerin swam back to the shallow end. His body one block colour underneath the surface.
—Is that your friend? A man was stood at the edge of the pool looking down at Sam.
—Why?
—You need to tell him to put his shorts on. You can’t be in here without shorts on.
—Why are you looking at him when he hasn’t got shorts on?
—Can you tell him to put them on please?
—Well you seem pretty excited about it mate why don’t you tell him.
—Listen, I know you right, I fucking know him, I’ve seen you about. I saw him move my fucking recycling bin, and you lot fucking joy riding about. You can’t fuck about with me like that, I’m not some big old guy, wasting away like you. I had to dig up that fucking cat the other day. You fucking lot buried that fucking cone in my garden and filled it full of your shit – I fucking know it was you so don’t fucking give me that – I hit this bin liner. It’ll grow through you know, I’ll put plants right back up.
—Alright mate, look, I’m not doing anything here. I’ve paid to be in. Whatever you wanna say.
—There is no law with you people. The man’s breathing slowed, he began to drift away from direct eye contact. He turned away, his arms still crossed, still looking down, then walked to the far end of the pool. Sam kept focused on him as he walked the circumference then back on himself into the changing rooms near the entrance.

The water hit Sam’s head from the shower head as though heat swells and popped in small bubbles under his skin. The changing booth doors lined up all burnt orange before him, all facing away, the image broken in the centre by the through-way to the entrance. The cream tiles looked dirty beneath his feet, the grouting between each one darkened from white. He closed his eyes and let the water build on his lower lip, pushed out so as to blow it warm and tasteless away. His stomach was in knots, felt like ten men drowned, him. A small child, barely able to walk, carefully let himself under the water of a shower his dad was using. The child screamed with laughter each time the water hit him, clenched fists, then stepped back from the falling water, breathing as though he was in shock. The whole of Sam’s back itched under the water.

The sun looks like it wilts the ground outside although small families pass the large glass windows in windbreakers and hoods up trying to avoid the damage of the early afternoon. The trees move in slight ways. Light reflecting off the hoods of cars and creating white sheet through which people leaving the building pass through. It is impossible for the people, once walking under stripped light, when to have fallen off milk, to walk again with sky long guise and open up and trust what’s helping them is helping them.

A tall blonde woman passed by Sam and entered a changing room to the left of the corridor, her door hung open. Her hair was extremely straight, fell passed her shoulders and her deep burnt healing-skin added something to the fall, a defined line of the frontier of her scalp almost visible through the flatness of her hair when pulled above her head and tied, somehow the most naked thing about her. She was in her early twenties and seemed awkwardly straight, her hips slim with only the slightest curve into her stomach, a belly button piercing arched over but not falling. The deep red/orange of the changing room wall made her rainbow striped bikini look garish and somewhat stupid and it stuck to her as though no amount of force from the world around her would make it fall. She bent over the changing room bench and pulled out a long white towel from her bag with which she began to dry herself with, her hair, the back of her head, around her ears, looking down at the floor while her hair fell over her face. The water beats against the back of Sam’s neck. The woman began to dry her stomach and torso then brought the towel to her chest, holding it with one hand while with the other she unfastened her bikini top at the back. The straps fell from her shoulders, over the towel, the strap at the back swung forward to her elbows when she leant over to pick up her locker key and Sam saw her whole back arced over, down her hip and the small vertebrate of her spine that disappeared into a flat, not depressed, small of the back. Her ribs were straight then curved suddenly at her abdomen.

Sam looked to his right down the length of the pool, Kerin stood on the raised divide between the pools once more. He was wearing his shorts and visibly shaking even from the distance at which Sam stood. He ran the few paces to the water and pushed all his weight off the edge, landing in a mess that sprayed water on most of the walkway. Behind him in the children’s pool a woman bounced a little girl in the shallow water. The tight and centred face of the little girl, the woman pulling her down, the water touching her neck, pulling her out of it again, picking up small handfuls of water and pouring them over the girl’s head who laughed and smiled. This made some people uncomfortable, the fat man sat on the front row of the bleachers at the side of the pool, his trainers camouflaged by the tile, and stared into the distance.

The blonde woman glanced in Sam’s direction. She lowered the towel and began drying around her waist. Her breasts rested lower than he expected, a small history of losing a lot of weight, her nipples dark pink and brown. Her hair fell around her shoulders, she was a block of pure print colour, a host body. Sam felt sick, he couldn’t move, the space was hers and he should not have been there. He kept his eyes on her intently, as though any change could bring about a realisation, for the moment he was there as being close to her. Sam felt this intimacy, not his, not old enough to be responsible for something outside of itself. She undid the ties of her bikini bottoms at her hip and dried the spot underneath while the bottoms fell to the floor and she leant again to pick them up with the towel around her centre, her hip and whole leg showing. Something about her that is awkwardly straight, in the build of her body, her legs seem too short or too wide. And the man stared across the pool in which the children were placed. She dried her legs, her pubic hair was shaved fairly short, stubble growing close to the top of her thighs, her body bent in every way he imagined a body should bend, the curve of her pelvis gave no impression of sex. Sam turned his eyes back to the pool, Kerin’s head above water, emerging and disappearing intermittently, half-swimming. Sam’s arms were by his side.

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