The rug was above her head, and the chandelier was at her feet. Naturally, she pawed her way towards the window, to see the last glimpse of the astrovan she had come to love screech out of the driveway. This was it. She was counting since the last breath she had taken, approximately 7 and a half seconds. She believed that would yield her enough time to rummage through the knife drawer in the kitchen.
In an instant, her feet vibrated like hummingbirds, and she began to stride one arm after another, pushing her way through the blue apocalypse her Dad had left for her.
It was only yesterday that she thought she had proved herself worthy. She had won almost every single event in the Alabama Swimming Association’s state meet. 500 fly, down, 100 free, down. All but her last event, the 200 breaststroke, in which she had only lost by three milliseconds, and had only rehearsed for one day prior. She already had won the contest, but as she wiped droplets away from her goggles, she saw her father’s face. It was more than his usual you-can-do-better glares, this time his eyes seemed to droop down to his nose, and the corners of his mouth sag to an almost inhuman death. He flashed her his distinguished yellow stopwatch, which he always wore around his neck.
She wondered if it ever got too tight.
She slept well that night, disregarding each trouble her day had brought her. She had earned it, she swam as hard as she knew she could. It was about then that the dripping started.
An hour earlier she had heard her dad stir in his room, to the point of opening his closet, which he only ever does when he needs to get a spare pair of keys. His clothes are lied around his bedroom, in no particular order. He said that it kept him calm, but she knew it was his undiagnosed OCD.
She glanced to the crack beneath her door, and saw a steady stream of water rolling in, creating a larger and larger dark spot on her shag carpeting.
She sprang up, of course, and hustled over to her port. She bent down, and smashed her fingers into the carpet, in order to see the color of the liquid that splooged over her hands. Clear.
“DAD! FLOOD” She hollered loudly, yet calmly. Instead of a response, she only heard the rustling in her father’s room get louder.
She knew she was locked out before she even reached for the door knob.
After an hour or so, the water was already at her ankles. She had managed to bust her way through her door, ramming it with her already fatigued shoulder blades. It was then that the first wave splashed her.
Upon the door’s breaking, a tidal of water splashed into her room, as if the entire house had been filled to the brim. Still standing, she attempted to hack up the copious amounts of liquid that surged into her nostrils. She began goose stepping out of the small hole in her door, into the chest-deep loch, thrashing and churning in the very place that used to play with Hot Wheels on a Friday afternoon.
If she hadn’t left her room, she would have survived. She left her room because swimming is all she knew how to do.
Fresh, cold, and in her ears. She hopped and skipped until she was fully submerged, which is when she noticed the notes. Her father had left her hundreds of note cards, some floating, some weighted by paperclips. Nonetheless, they each read out “CAN YOU SWIM?”. She wanted to cry, but she wanted to breathe more. As she reached the tip of her stairwell, she was able to reach the plateau of the water, and gasp several shallow breaths. She wanted to breathe more, but her waterlogged bronchioles changed her mind.
Down she went, wading down each step of her stairwell. If she wasn’t panicking, she would have been in awe of the amounts of water in her home. The canopy of the pool was roughly 4 feet above the top step, remaining even as one descended. She reached the base without much fatigue.
at the bottom. rug floating & tv glitched & pictures cracked & bloated wallpaper & dead dogs & popsicles on a tuesday * just after school * at the place down the street * drips on the car seat *red and sticky fingers * thin napkins * backseat compartments * he left in the van * he had promised she would get * once she was a winner
Grabbing the only knife she could find, she propelled herself out of the kitchen. She knew she could reach the door, crack open a sliver of the wood, and drain the house. But her father’s stopwatch was hanging on the coat rack. And it was ticking.
What is the point of swimming if one can’t be timed? She had won her father’s game, and all she needed to do is stop the clock. She wanted to gasp, but she had to wait it out only three yards more. She began to swim.
Her father never let her use the toaster unless he was around. He would plug it in, and flip his hands through the bread bag to find two suitable slices. He would let her drop the bread in the slots only if she used wooden tongs. “Good swimmers are never good electricians” he would say.
He was right.