Updated: Jun 4
So here I was a long, long time ago, in a land called Worcester. I decided one day to try my hand at swimming. I did not know how to swim, but I figured being from an island, I would fall into the water and naturally swim like a mermaid. In my defense, I was fourteen and into Harlequin Romance.
I walk into the magical kingdom on Y.M.C.A and follow the signs leading me to the pool. I enter the ladies facilities and immediately change out of my Bermuda shorts and neon shirt. I put my one piece on, and I did a quick check in the mirror. Long and behold my scrawny body, with frizzy hair sticking out from my temple, my tad-bit-bigger than normal nose for my tiny face with my brown almost black eyes stared back at me.
Yup, it’s me! I thought, and with no shame in my game, I strolled out through the glass door towards the abnormally blue pool water. Immediately the hot, muggy air hits my lungs and alarms me a bit, but I quickly ease into my new environment and thought of mermaids swimming.
As soon as I walk in I spot these navy blue flippers, and I got the brightest of ideas! ‘I’m going to put them on and truly be like a mermaid all I have to do is keep my legs together’ I thought. I hurriedly put the flippers and jump into the chlorine water.
The time when my dreams crashed with reality felt like a mirror falling and breaking on top of me, thus causing seven years of bad luck. At that moment, my mind worked on overdrive trying to decipher my master plan had gone wrong, and I panicked. I was not graceful jumping into the water, and it filled my nose and throat, threatening my life. I realized, I was not a mermaid, and I certainly could not swim like one.
I quickly tried to save my life, salvage my ego and pride by leaving the pool but then my flippers will not budge from their horizontal position. I couldn’t push them down to the floor so that I could walk. My scrawny legs were too weak to push them against the buoyancy of the water. Instead, they stayed floating much like the fucking mermaid that I didn’t want to be any more or at least not right that second.
Since I couldn’t get my lower body down, my upper body was also in the same horizontal position with my face facing down on the water. Again I did not know what to do with my arms to keep my head afloat. So I smacked the water time and time again trying to fight with it, to reason with it, so that it can give me back my human legs.
In the confusion of those few seconds, I spun in a circle, and I spotted the red shorts that are supposed to be of the one guy that can get me out of this situation. “Life Guard” was imprinted on his shirt and I needed my life guarded against the water and the fucking flippers that very second.
On that same torturous second, a blond walks in through the glass door. Immediately the hot air from the inside, combined with the cold air from the outside mixes to flush her skin and push her hair in the most intimate of ways. Her eyes were blue as oppose to my brown. Her body had curves and was not boyish like mine. Her hair was straight as oppose to my curly and frizzy mess. The lifeguard was enthralled; he was captivated.
My slaps of the water could not get his attention. A minute had gone by, and it felt like an eternity. I spun one more time to face the wall, and I make a quick decision to stop fighting with the water and instead become part of it. I didn’t fight with my flippers. Instead, I let them be. I pushed my face into the water, brought out my arms and began stroking them so as to make my way through the water and bring my body closer to the wall.
One stroke, then another one, my flippers followed suit and moved with my upper body. I opened one eye and noticed that I was almost there!
I reach the wall, and I touch it with my fingertips. Exhilarated to have found the wall I completely forget my newfound swimming skills and let my fingers slip thus slapping the water before I could get a good hold on the wall. I do one last stroke, and finally, I’m at full reach and able to grasp it fully without slipping. My panic is gone; I have reached the wall.
I pull my face out, place my palms on the ledge and push with all my might, my lean body out of the pool. I look back at the ‘lifeguard’ with so much disdain and disbelieve! That I spit some of the water that had gotten stuck in my throat in full view so he could see me, then I throw the flippers angrily onto the wet floor and left. If the door were not pressure resistant, I would think of slamming that too.
That day I realized that I was not a mermaid and would never be one. That my scrawny body was not so flimsy after all and that I didn’t need a ‘lifeguard’ to save me because that same girl with the brown almost black eyes, frizzy hair and a big nose who was drenched, shaking and breathing hard had just saved my life.