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Highly Commended from the Summer Flash Fiction Competition
As if the water’s blue loose retinue is cause to be alarmed, he curls, clings like froth in your arms. When you lift his chin, tell him to go, tell him the baby pool is only deep to his knees, his face firms up, ice-like, pupils frigid Moomaw glacier. You let the instructor take him away to the far end, and on the embankment of a placid lake of emotions, wait — a pristine ice-sheet. Anxieties lapping the walls of some ancient concrete dam, you watch him slide, descend into the pool, smooth as a drop. He flaps around, wiggles his arms, alike a gentle ripple on soft, yielding fluid. You’re the shimmer on that liquid, the embrace of loch. When he circles one round, then another, returns to you, dripping but beaming, your motherhood is a proud fountain, gurgling-down mountain brook. Your little boy, ecstatic on his little-big achievement, pumps his tiny fist, rises on his toes, higher than vapor, juxtaposed science and art. You pull him close, hug him tight, ensconce him in an abundant love bubble.
Years later, your arthritic lower limbs are aerial props of the banyan, thick and too heavy to move. Your fingers are strangler figs, clutching your boy, now grown-up and busy, like a network of mesh from which he struggles to be free. When you let him go, you die inside first, you rot within, become a hollow column, a central core in which the rodents and squirrels move in, a family of anteaters, and then nature is at play once again — unbound, unfree.