We should go swimming. Her eyes scanned the lake in front of them.
That makes me remember when we were younger- you remember how we’d go swimming almost every day after school? He brushed a stray blade of grass from his shoulder and watched the slightest hint of a wave gently cradle a group of cattails along the shore.
She placed a hand over her face and looked at him. Of course I do, she laughed. We always ended up looking like prunes. She lowered her hand and stared at her fingers, trying to picture the image in her mind. Do you think we could make it all the way across? she wonder aloud, opening and closing her fist slowly.
I would think so, now that we’re older-
Here we go again-
You’re never going to let me live down that time my Dad had to jump in and rescue me, are you? I was ten- I didn’t know any better.
He stared at the far shoreline. Looks like maybe a good eighth of a mile. Seemed a lot further when we were kids.
Yeah she said, eyes closed. You know, I’ve always dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer.
I didn’t know that.
Oh yeah. I watched the ’96 games in Atlanta and was simply amazed. One day maybe I’ll train and swim competitively- I’m probably too old for the Olympics by now.
He swatted ineffectually at a bug buzzing past and watched it until it disappeared against the pier.
Can you imagine she continued, being able to knife through that water out there such little effort? To just kick and kick and climb out dripping wet and not even be short of breath? I’d give anything to be able to do that.
You should practice, then. I’m sure you could do it.
Probably she said, but it takes so much dedication. I’m kinda flaky.
He laughed at that, a strong and loud laugh that carried across the water. A lone bird in the distance rose from the brush and took off quietly for the horizon.
And I don’t know- what if I’m no good at it? What if I train for five years and still can’t swim well? Then I’ve thrown away five years of my life on something that was pointless. Her brow furrowed at the thought as she pushed a loose strand of hair from her eyes.
Well, how do you know if you don’t try?
I’ve thought of that- I think that if I don’t try, I’ll never have to know.
I’m not sure that makes a whole bunch of sense, but okay. He noticed the cattails’ shadows growing shorter and glanced at his wristwatch.
No really- listen. You remember those parents a while back whose child went missing and all those people searched for five days straight?
Actually, I do he said, biting his lower lip. Didn’t they finally find a body or something?
Yeah. She sat up, placing her hands on the ground behind her. Remember how the parents at the press conference said they were relieved because they finally had closure? I don’t think I would want to know.
Know what? Whether your child was dead?
Yeah. The unknown doesn’t scare me nearly as much as absolute certainty. Without a body, there’s a tiny chance their daughter was still alive. I’d rather live with that chance.
I guess he said. I think I would want to know.
Not me. Her shoulders relaxed and her eyes returned to the water. If I go out there and swim and fail miserably, it’ll be like one of my children died. Better to keep it close.
Do me a favor he said, turning to face her.
Never have kids.
She paused for a moment and then laughed. Fine. If you want to, we’ll go swimming. I’ll go drown all my babies just to make you happy.
They might just float, you know.
Maybe. She stared at a stand of dull gray trees on the far shore. We’ll try tomorrow.