I was learning to swim. A floating embarrassment that—at my age—I couldn’t stay alive in water. I chose the earliest possible class to avoid being shown up by four year-olds. The light was just a crack in the sky as I pulled up to the council pool for the first time. And yet, for some reason, I had slathered myself in sunscreen. I felt it inside my nostrils, felt the awkward drawstring pinch of swimwear. No one at the gates, just walked in across the freezing concrete. An old man with teak skin and pink swimming briefs stalked the bleachers. He waved when he saw me, jumped down the rows with a dancer’s surgical grace. My teacher, then, a portrait of aquaplaned age. He came up to stand right next to me. Nodded, pushed me in.


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