Monday, September 26, 2011

The Unofficial Lifeguard

Part Two

Summer, 1977

The first person I pluck from the pool this summer is a five-year-old boy who is left to play on the steps in the shallow end while his mother paddles slowly to the other end to eye the tanned men swimming there. The application of sun tan lotion on sleek bodies is rampant. The blonde living across the parking lot floats on a green rubber raft, her long painted fingernails trailing in the water. Another paragraph read, another glance around to find my daughters. I read on--aware how hot the sun is on my shoulders. Another glance around, the young boy not on the steps. He is stretched out under the water--struggling--his legs kicking but creating no real movement in the water. Two steps, the chair collapsing behind me, I jump from the edge of the pool and reach down and grab the boy around his waist. I stand him up on the wet concrete to study his face. A shocked look then he exhales through his nose--expelling water and mucus. Activity ceases in the pool. The boy cries for a moment and holds his arms out to his mother. She takes him and holds him while standing waist-deep in the water. They say nothing to each other but stand for a long time in a comforting embrace. Finally, still carrying her son on her hip, still silent, the woman walks slowly to the steps and climbs out of the pool, pausing only to pick up a towel across the back of a chair.

1 comment:

  1. And not a word of thanks to the unofficial lifeguard from the pool boy focused mother…
    Crisp, jolting passage underlining the casualness of near tragedy.