Water Music
Liz Lent
"Come on in. The water feels good," he tells me. And I know he's lying, just to be perverse. Maybe that's paranoid, but I know him and I wouldn't put it past him. There could be tiny little sharks trolling around under there, nipping at his legs and drawing blood -- but he's the kind of man willing to withstand suffering like that just to mock me.

"A very likely story," I tell him, crossing my arms in the most direct statement I can make. You have to think like he does, stay in step. It's like an ugly little dance marathon; the two of us arm in arm, going around and around to see who can last the longest.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he says.

"It would be just like you to tell me the water feels good when in fact it doesn't at all! Not one tiny bit!"

"It's a swimming pool!" He paddles over to the thermometer floating near the filter equipment. He holds it up and shouts, "It's 68 degrees in here. It's 98 degrees out there. You do the math!"

And I can see she's doing the math. She's standing there on the pool deck, her arms folded, glaring at me like I've just strangled the cat. And I want her to come into the pool so badly because she's absolutely right, the water does feel terrible. The bottom of the pool is slimy and green. I over-chlorinated it this morning to compensate and now I'm starting to itch. A clump of dog hair floats past me.

I know I sound like a bastard, but it's my turn to make her make a mistake. She owes me one. She made me fall in love with her and now look where we are. Screwing with each other's heads twelve years later, playing mind games as I float in dirty water and she sweats under the hot-as-hell sun. It's a give and take. Isn't that what dialogue is all about?

There they are again. He's telling her the water feels good. She's telling him to go to hell. And I know that the water's disgusting because I'm ten yards away and the chlorine's making my eyes water hotly. And I know it's disgusting because I'm the one who threw that fistful of dog hair in there this morning. And I know she wants to jump in because deep down Mom cannot disbelieve Dad. When he says 'I hate you', she wants to believe he doesn't mean it though I think she knows he does. And when she says the same to him, he thinks he knows better, which is a laugh.

Later that night, the son lies on the couch. It's late and the mother and father are tired as they stare at each other across the length of the living room. The lights are off and there's only the flickering blue glow from the television to illuminate them. The wife is thinking about how warm it is, how she knows she won't be able to sleep. "Was the water really good?" she asks.

He smiles, turns back to the TV and says, "There's nothing like a good swim, dear. It's like being in love. You dive in. You float around in it for a while. You're warm and safe and it's everywhere surrounding you."

"But then you get tired," she says.

"Then you get tired," he says.

"And drown," the boy says, laughing. home