Controlled Drowning

“Being is a great clamor, like rocks slapping and breaking, hushed by fold upon fold of flesh,” said the pool technician to himself, dropping tools on the diving board that just last week cracked when, during an otherwise tame party, the host’s boss’s girlfriend decided to do a cannonball but failed to clear the springy tip. She was OK. Hearing the story, the pool tech thought about how embarrassment can work two ways. Sometimes, people stay under until bubbles break above their head. Sometimes, they leave inhibitions floating in the pool like a loud swimsuit. “Do you mind if we swim while you work?” asked the host, her grown children already throwing floats into the deep end. Their kicks barely disturbed the water. The pool tech knew backstrokes and butterflies by ear. These people knew neither well. They treaded a lot. They were the kind of people who could fall from a boat and survive for weeks, never moving nearer to shore, sharks ignoring them like mannequins. The pool tech thought of swimming as controlled drowning. Under water, the pulse was dirty dishwater being squeezed from a sponge. The owner knelt in the shallow end, only her head above water, and stared at clouds as if they might be hiding something. They sparked. Without warning, the pool tech tested the new board, bounding fully clothed above the water. The pool exploded. There was a sloshing followed by a yawn.

Jordan Sanderson’s work has appeared in Phantom Limb, Caketrain, Double Room, Gigantic Sequins, burntdistrict, The Fiddleback, Better: A Journal of Culture and Lit, Thunderclap, and he has work forthcoming from NANO and other journals. He earned a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi and currently lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he teaches English.