Good Swimmers Drown













Pimp My Lent/Day 27


The Prompt:

From Jim Kuenzer…

“Everything is silent/Night upon the rocks/I’m over by the roadhouse/With them rusted engine blocks/A ghost town with a gold mile/A pick axe in my head/I’m beggin’ mama please move over/Kick the stones out of my bed” (Kick the Stones, Chris Whitley)

The Product:

NOTE: “Kick the stones out of my head” – was what I read at first glance of  that last line. That spurred me to thinking “what weighs me down,” or holds me back, and the answer to that question is almost always FEAR.  I am a swimmer. I’ve been a swimmer from a very young age. I lived to be in the water. And then one day, I almost drowned, in one of the stupidest-possible, non-alcohol-related ways a person might drown. Probably a dozen years have passed since that day, and every time I get into a pool,  I have to talk myself past the tiger.

Good swimmers drown every day. Every day. People who swim, like, every day. They drown. They’re swimming along and they have a heart attack. Or maybe they’re swimming along (crawl stroke, face in water) one-two-three-four and UP to breathe, and when they come up, they inhale hard and they suck in air AND water, and then they start coughing and they think they’ve cleared their lungs but they haven’t and they cough all day, not realizing that they’re drowning. Delayed drowning. It happens every day.

Or this. It’s 2:30 p.m. and it’s lap-swim time, so the people who really swim are at the YWCA pool because it’s the only place that they can afford. But the YMCA is going broke, right, and they have to rent out their pool to schools and other impoverished groups in order to keep it open. So they, the people who swim, they’re in their own lane, following proper lap-swim etiquette, swimming in the right direction, not blowing their noses in the pool – following the rules. It is counter­-clockwise day – but these impoverished teenage boys keep falling into their lanes, jumping in front of them, horseplaying. And the people who swim, they take off from the side, push off hard, really angry, swimming underwater to block the horrible racket of  the teenage boys.

The people swim, stroking hard, kicking hard, swimming underwater, towards the deep end like a rocket, hard because they’re so angry….

And then they realize “Hey, I’m out of air. I better come up for air,” and then they realize “Hey, I’m in deeper than I thought. I’m not just below the surface, I’m way under and I am out of air.” And they feel a legendary surge of panic, the kind that will cause them to drop to the bottom of the 13-foot-deep depths where the giant drains will pin them flat against the filthy grates, disemboweling them, sucking eyes right out of sockets. The people who swim aim their faces up towards the watery blue-brown ceiling and they kick off one last time, lungs bursting, heart screaming, hoping to just make it, to break the surface, pop up gasping like a giant salmon.

They know that the 18-year-old lifeguard isn’t watching because he is not at all vigilant under good circumstances, and right now he is distracted by the clot of teenage boys.

And so they drown. Good swimmers drown. Every single day.


About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
This entry was posted in Pimp My Lent, Plays and Playwriting. Bookmark the permalink.

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