3 Replies to “5.22.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. I drowned once. I think I can say that. I stopped breathing and sank to the bottom of an outdoor public swimming pool and had to be rescued, my stomach pumped. I was seven at the time and I had not given heed to the instructions of my parents and had strayed into deeper water than I was tall. My mam gave me what for as soon as they sent me home from the hospital and my dad said he would teach me to swim so that it could not ever happen again.

    It was weird afterwards, trying to remember what had happened and what it had felt like. My brother wanted me to tell him. ‘You must remember something,’ he said. And when I said I wouldn’t or couldn’t, he looked at me funny, as if I was not really his brother anymore but some imposter that had been fished out of the pool in place of him.

    But I did remember. Of course I did. I remember I panicked, seeing all that water swirling above my head and the blue of the sky so far away and so suddenly pale compared to the blue tiles of the pool. I think I screamed, but there was no sound, just air exploding into a thousand misshapen bubbles, and not far were the disembodied kicking legs of swimmers and I saw that one had a bracelet around the ankle and it glinted and winked at me like treasure.

    At the end of a scream, however silent, you have to breathe in again. I drank in chlorinated water, more than should be drunk, and the edges of what I could see became blurred and I drifted out of consciousness, and everything was stilled and silent, and angels smiled at me and called my name softly, so softly they did not ripple the silence. That’s what I remember, and one angel looked like my cousin Sandra in a white and floating nightdress and her hair all dissolving halo.

    It was a girl who saw me at the bottom of the pool, seeming to be asleep. She dived down and brought me to the surface. She had a badge from the Girl Guides that said she could do that and so she did. A man helped pull me out of the water and he kissed me. I know all this because that’s what they said afterwards. They said the man gave me the kiss of life, and I wondered if that was like my mam kissing my dad, and I thought then that I had never seen a man kissing another man, and I wondered why that was.

    I had to stay in bed for a day and my mam kept checking on me. I asked if I could get up and watch television, but my mam shook her head and said I was to have peace and quiet to recover, not even a book or a comic to read. I lay back on my pillow and day-dreamed those angels back and calling my name,

    My cousin Sandra was four years older than me, still is, and she isn’t really my cousin; she’s just Sandra. When, years later, I told her she was an angel in my recurring dream, she laughed and said I was sweet and she gave me the kiss of life, too, and that was a little like drowning all over again.

  2. (Sometimes a picture makes more than just the one story and a second spills from the pen. Here’s a second.)

    My house is shrinking. That’s what it feels like. I have to duck to pass through the doors; and when I stand up straight my head touches the ceiling and not just in the dark space under the stairs; and with my arms spread out wide, like a bird when it outstretches its wings in flight, I can touch the opposite walls in every room.

    The tables and chairs crowd my space now and I am always bumping into things – I have bruises on my thighs to prove it and blue-black stubbed toes. And my bath does not hold my legs and my arms at the same time, but feels as small as a sink when I’m sitting in it. And I have stopped falling out of bed in the middle of the night, for there is no room to fall.

    At first I thought it was just me, sixty-two years and still growing; hadn’t I always wished to be taller, tall as a tree? And last Purim I’d dropped a silver sixpence into the wishing well and asked to be tall enough that I could kiss Esther Ash without standing on tiptoes or a chair. But a trip to the doctor confirmed that I was shrinking too, shrinking as the old are wont to shrink, my back a little bowed and my legs bowed too.

    It’s just that I’m not shrinking so fast as the house is shrinking.

    One day my house will be small enough for dolls and I will not fit through the doors and can only look in at the windows with my face pressed up close. And the fire will be tended by my putting one hand in and not really able to see what I am doing and trying not to burn my fingers. And the bed will always be made and the kitchen table set for one and the dripping tap will drop drips so small they couldn’t be seen.

    Then, I think, I will wish myself smaller than small. I have a silver sixpence saved for that moment. And I will wish Esther Ash small, too, and being small together we would be a match at last. Hadn’t the shadchan said we were not a match, years back, when I wanted Esther for my wife? But seeing Esther now, I think we are nearer to being perfect for each other, and I can see a near and nearer day when she will not measure one etzbah more than I measure, a day further on yet and I will have to bend my knees to kiss her.

    But for now it is the house that grows smaller, my house, and when I sleep and I dream, I dream of holding Esther’s hand in mine and turning to face her and only having to lean to right or to left to kiss her; but then I have always dreamed that dream.

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