August 5, 2013 Comments Off on Night Swimming by Mike Harrell
Bats were working the blue light above the swimming pool. Their muted squeaks skittered across the pool’s surface, random as the reflections that willowed out along the bottom. The swimmers had gotten used to the erratic shadows, learned not to duck every time one of the furred bodies chopped past with a moth or mosquito in its teeth.
Jeff, too, was working the blue light above the water. He added a husk of breath to his voice as he leaned over Teresa and asked if she wanted another swallow from an unlabeled bottle. The bats continued to squeak through the thick air, quick and efficient feeders, getting their fill before the night turned over. Teresa took the bottle from Jeff’s hand and watched as he disappeared into the deepest end of the pool. She thought she would follow him in, but then decided against it.
Teresa watched Jeff swimming along the bottom and remembered a photograph she’d once seen in a museum. In it, a man in striped trunks was diving headfirst into a pool. His arms were outstretched, and his feet were just about to enter the water. Reflections scattered out around him like the current around a Tesla coil, and the angle of his body made his head appear disproportionately small. Teresa took another pull off the bottle, ready to match Jeff’s silhouette with that in the photograph, but when she looked for him again, he wasn’t there.
She walked along the edge of the pool, staring incredulously into the water. She was suddenly aware of the smell of chlorine and the small lapping sound the water made as it sloshed up under the lip of the deck. The reflection of bats on the surface made it appear as if they were small black rays, frantically winging their way along the bottom. She felt the pull to join them, and drawing a breath, she stepped off the edge and went under.
Jeff was waiting for her at the bottom. He seemed resolved as he motioned her over with a slow sweep of his arm. When she reached him she wrapped her legs around his waist and leaned her head back until she could see the moon smeared across the surface of the pool, the bats veering in all directions around the glow. She looked back at Jeff, the fur on his cheeks undulant in a wash of water, his mouth a dark hollow ringed with needles, the bones in his arms pushing out like wings.
© 2013 Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell lives in Brooklyn, NY and makes his living in the film industry as a props person. He is a graduate of the University of Florida, where he received a degree in English. He has been published in IthicaLit, The Centrifugal Eye, Clapboard House, Soundzine, Barnwood Magazine, and The Alligator.