Saturday 24 June 2023

'Feel & I' by Karen Walker

I—we—climb onto the low diving board. I creep out to the end. Feel follows. The board bounces, the bottomless pool ripples. My heart is pounding. Feel elbows me. Now, straight arms, tucked head, hands clasped together. Lean. Lean, lean. I push off. Feel points my toes as they leave the board.


We are smooth, rip through the pool like an arrow. Underwater, Feel bubbles that I'm a natural diver. Wow, I bubble back. Think so? We surface and Mum applauds, yells that was beautiful.

Feel squeezes my hand when Dee, the swim instructor—she's  never spoken to us before; she just blows her whistle at us—asks if we want to join the dive club on Thursday nights. Feel jumps up and down, and squeals maybe we'll go to the Olympics someday, and pokes me to answer. I mumble yes.

We climb. Up. Up, up. The high diving board is in the clouds. I slide my sweaty hands along the cold steel railing. Feel lifts one foot. The other foot. Pushes. Until we're on step number seventeen. Then, no more pushing. I turn around. Feel is gone. Climbing back down the ladder. I follow.

On the pool deck, Feel won't look at me and won't take my hand when Dee shrugs and turns away, and the brave kids destined for gold medal glory laugh. Mum folds her chair, goes to the car.

Feel is in the front seat on the drive home. Sighs when Mum sighs. Feel reminds me to rinse out my swimsuit before bed.

Finally, Mum says never mind about tonight. Let's get ice cream. I don't want any, but Feel does and eats my sundae, too.

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