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Swimming: Jackson Morris '21

I am swimming, I think.

A swath of blue caresses my body with a sinusoidal undulation. As I rock back and forth, I take note of this strange form of motion.

My hands were emulating a cupping motion, one ingrained into me for the sole purpose of cutting through pools with the finesse and confidence of a practiced sculptor. My kicks were yielding a smoothly satisfying glide through the liquid as though my feet were graced with flippers, although my mediocre speed of movement exposed this comparison to be a fallacy.


I soon transmuted my freestyle into a backstroke in order that my unobstructed eyes could scour the land around me.


I found myself affixed in a large body of water surrounded in one direction half by a bed of elm and oak trees with a chain of snow-capped mountains peeking out above them. Opposite to that was the watery extent of a pond— no, a lake— no, a sea— a canvas of water with such a grand spread that my eyes were not able to invent a limit to its area. A few birds chirped from the branches of an elm, adding an ambient melody to the already-impressive atmosphere I found myself inserted in. Yet I still had no clue as to the reason why I was swimming here. That’s when it hit me


Well, she hit me


I suppose it’s more fair to say I hit her


“Watch where the hell you’re swimming, you ashhole”, she kindly retorted, brushing away my misfortunate backstroke. The woman I encountered enunciated a faintly New-England accent as her face was concealed by a head of muddy-red locks that my left hand first made contact with, still stumbling out of my swimming stupor.


As we locked eyes, the waves in the lake froze. The afternoon luster of sunlight stopped dancing in the water. The glistening reflection of the sun was captured and glued down.


Shock. Recognition. More shock. What... what was this? Synapses fired desperately to find an organ in my body that could explain what reason could not, colliding with the signals of love, hatred, and loss that coursed through my nervous system with an electric edge.

I separated my lips from each other with a difficulty not unlike a baby learning to walk. As a sound rose from my vocal chords and shot through my mouth, my ears captured not only the gentle drip-drip of water skating down and away from my face, but also that of my voice shaking with words unprompted by my brain.


“Tess, you—you’re dead.”


The runner’s tan that had accompanied her figure decays into a ghoulish pale as blotches and holes appear in her skin. Bones poke through her formerly athletic build. The sun and water resume their tango with a new, allegro tempo. The skills of swimming that I so easily and mysteriously had inherited were snatched away from me in dramatic fashion, leaving me to drown in a gleaming crimson sea of death.


I gargled and gurgled and gasped for the gentle comfort of the air. Instead, from the heavens, a sparkling golden inferno erupted, dispersing new tears of blood as the abrupt and hastily accumulating cumulonimbi sobbed on the horizon. Aeolus himself would be at a loss to control the ravenous winds that tore up the once-tall mountains.


As I fumbled to clutch her in an embrace, squeezing her in a weary, desperate motion to reclaim her existence, she finally dissipated.


She left behind only the so-familiar glint of her smirk, still parsing the word “ashhole."


-Jackson Morris '21

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