I go to the swimming pool every day. Therapy’s too expensive. I go at five in the evening, when families have had enough and oldies get ready for bingo and funerals. It’s always empty. It’s an inside pool, a square of luminous blue water enclosed by tiled black walls. My alternate reality. I should do laps, exercise sore shoulders and an aching back but I have enough repetition in life.

“Have you been eating enough protein? It helps you know.” “You’ve been exercising right? Managing your stress? It’s important.”

These voices repeat inside my head, like a radio with all the channels switched on, a running commentary on me and my failing health. How to sort through my thoughts, file them, archive them… let it go? There are so many that I hold onto,. Rusty, tired thoughts. They cling like mold, fester like pus and harden like scabs. And so my mind is a minefield of wounds.

I distract myself. The swimming pool is a slice of silence. I don’t have to hold myself, the water does. It envelops me, until I’m swaddled and warm. I’m weightless in the pool, no longer grounded. Leaping, twisting, curling and pirouetting, I’m ten years old again and innocent. The water jerks and jolts, furiously spitting but I still dance up a storm, move through the pressure. Chlorine stings my eyes and parches my skin. In the end I float, exhausted and alone. I stare at the ceiling, this blank void, imagining it’s my clean slate and my problems have been liquefied, transformed into the water beneath me. I can move forward, I am strong, resilient. My body a shriveled prune, I’ve filled the pool with my thoughts, my dreams, my shortcomings and misgivings. They seethe and simmer in this swimming pool. I get out of the water, lighter than before.

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