OAK MAGAZINE

Everyday Horrors



"The Pool"

By Kristina Ilse Vetter


It’s not every day that is horrible, but there is horror in the “everyday.” A flash of a moment to make you scratch your head and, this being a fiction, is sure to leave you with a few questions. Welcome to Everyday Horrors, do mind your head.


Have you ever looked at a body of water and imagined yourself submerged in it? You’re fully clothed but you still roll up a sleeve; stick your hand in it for a moment. To feel the coolness wash over your skin, the blood underneath seeming to slow, the light reflecting off of the gentle crests beckoning you—glorious.


Wondering what's there with you.


I always feel that way. When I get ready for the day at work, I fill a 3-compartment sink. The first with suds, the clean sink. The third with sanitizer, the sani-sink. The second sink with plain, cool water. The rinse sink. I stare into it everyday wishing I could take the plunge despite my size. I make do by waving my hand through it, wiggling my fingers like jellyfish tentacles, imagining what it would be like to float so beautifully.


Floating is the ultimate state. One can float anywhere, in anything. The matter in which you float does not matter at all. The manner of it is up to you to decide. Let preference be your guide! Water will always be mine, my favorite vehicle, but it can also be a lo-fi station, softly pulsing in the background. The rhythm drives you into a subconscious day-dream, finely constructed. Focused fantasies beat against the shoreline. The tasks swirl in and out of urgency, slowly ticking by with completion. Autopilot. Daylight slips into dusk, sliding gently off the cliff of wakefulness and into new realms. The day-full dream, carefully crafted, gives way to the careening of night. Marred with chaos, your mind tries to file necessary and unnecessary information. It tries to protect you. But you, you don’t want to be protected. You’ve spent the entire day feeding a muscle, a mechanism. Training it to lucidity. As the black folds you in, you forget who is sleeping and who is awake. You are asleep, but you are, also, aware.


Don’t wake her. Move quietly. Stay calm.


The pool is warm. Sunlight dances across the bottom and I can hardly contain my excitement. A friend joins me while I fill a 3-compartment cup holder with water, then infuse them with different colored paints. We chat about work, complaining about this or that.


Why do I have this paint?


Fully submerged, the water feels like an old friend. A dozen other people around me, enjoying the underside of the deep end(s), feeling connected for a moment. Swimming up and down, over the surface, diving like dolphins while everyone goes by in a blur. A blur I can’t quite make out, but still recognize.


One girl is stuck to the side of the pool, just slightly below the surface. Floating. I swim over to say hello. She waves me off in a frenzy. Looking down, I can see others resting on the bottom.


Breathing?


I swim down to wake the first person I recognize, asking how he can breathe under here.


Wait, am I breathing?


He waves me off and points to the surface. I can still see the paint cups.


Urgently swimming to the surface, checking to see if my work was still intact, looking down once more. A woman, scuttling across the floor like a deranged crustacean, violently looking for something. She is angular, pale, and clearly upset.


She looks up. My heart jumps for a moment. I breathe to settle it, floating. Stillness is my only friend.


“I need to get out of this pool now.” I think with certainty, lifting myself out of the water. The coolness leaves my skin feeling prickly, no longer soothed.


I turn back to reach for my paints, crouching down to extend carefully across the surface with my eyes closed, arm dangerously outstretched. Grasping for relief from the sight of her. Finding the familiar, slippery inflated holder I open my eyes, praying I don’t see the crab lady again.


But, I can’t see anything. It’s all paint, coating my eyes like glue. Try as I might, I can’t rub it out. I blink for clarity, where none is available. Everyone else is asleep, they won’t hear me scream. There is nothing left but to wait for the inevitable, expected end.


Something hits me, hard. She found me.

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