a friendly shark

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The sun was setting and the apartment was hot. Slanting rays from the last days of summer baked the dust mites in my carpet, sending their papered souls flittering in the air. I hate the slow accumulation of sweat.

But no one could be had. Everyone was hurrying off to cafes and terraces to bake noisily before melting Ricards and dripping beers. I didn't fancy trading hot air. The deferred swim date seemed like a good solution.

It's weird to go swimming alone. Unless one does laps, and one likes doing laps, it does seem like a very strange thing to do. Hover, float, crawl a little forward, somersault back, hover, drift.

The pool at rue David D'Angers: the breadth and the length was large enough for the herd of torpedoing elephants, messy Arab teenage boys and grumbling belle meres. Swimming for pleasure is possible if you keep your head well underwater and look down. How fast the tiles stream by.

The sun now covered half the pool. On one of my pauses I noticed a young man turning to look at me. He seemed quite alone. I went back towards the shallow end. He took that opportunity to speak one line.

One line. You know that one line. You either nod politely, say something bland, or crack a joke. It's a ritual... it doesn't mean anything. Nothing useful. So I flipped the ball back in his court and spread my wings for another lap. At the other end, he appeared again.

He traded my blandness and I flittered something equally mild. Now, at every lap, I was tailed. And then, going back again, I saw a shadow deep beneath me. Like a shark. A strangely muscled boy with nothing more than a few words about Paraguay and theatre to pander about.

I looked up at the clock. The time had passed and my restlessness was quelled. He asked me where I was going. I said out of the pool. He asked for my number. I turned to face him full in the face. There was a smile and a no. But a hint that he could keep swimming and one day maybe we'd cross paths again.

Perhaps he'll be there all fall.