Entering the past

Standard

 

Deep summer. I raise my hand to shield my eyes and smell orange blossoms. Traces of sunscreen streak my arms.  I stand in a swimming pool, waiting, watching the sunlight shatter again and again on the surface of the water. I can’t say for sure what I’m waiting for.

 

My hair turned green from the chlorine one summer long ago. Day after day I dipped below the surface, swimming through the hours, under the freckling sun. I counted swimming as bathing. I think about that summer and the things I can’t remember but want to. I rummage through my memories looking, find a page torn from a book, a faded photograph of someone I vaguely remember, but no name is written on the back. My past is the long chain of days I drag behind me.

 

A child stands on the edge of the pool, jumps, and splashes near me. I remember diving off the high dive when I was only six or seven. Into the deep. Unafraid.

 

A woman calls to the child to get out of the pool. I remember mother warning me that my lips were blue, and I needed to warm myself on the hot cement.  I turn and look behind me, but nothing is there.  The past is here, not behind.

 

I look at my feet; my legs below the surface disconnected to the part of my body above the water. I touch the boundary, the water’s skin freckled with light that divides air and water; the light bends, and nothing below looks the same again. What if time isn’t measured in length, but in depth? Perhaps I have stepped into the pool of time, and as I walk deeper into the future, more and more of me is in the past below. Eventually, the past will completely swallow me up.

 

I stand, staring at my legs, displaced by light. I cannot align them with my body, but I can feel them. I let them carry me deeper.

 

Someone calls my name. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and dive into the cool water, heading for the other side.