Why do people always see me in the swimming pool?
It’s all part of my routine.
When I was a kid, my mom would make me take the long way home.
I’d spend the day at the beach with my family.
But I never felt like I belonged.
I was just an outcast in the family.
I had to hide, and hide, hide.
I remember being at the pool one time.
It was my favorite time of year, and I wanted to play.
It was the hottest day of the year, but it was the coolest.
It felt like a dream.
I didn’t know why.
But after I got home, I went outside to play with my friends.
They were swimming, and the ocean was just out of reach.
I just stood there, watching them splash, like in an episode of The Wonder Years.
But then something happened.
The ocean swelled.
It started to form a ring around the pool.
It looked like a ring of jelly.
The ring grew bigger and bigger.
It became like a giant ring of fire.
I saw it on the TV, but I didn, too.
I wasn’t even sure what it was.
My friends were in their swimming suits.
It seemed so ridiculous to me, but somehow I knew that it was happening.
So I ran out of the house.
I started crying.
It’s that moment that has haunted me.
When I was younger, I used to swim in the ocean.
It used to be a very safe place.
I loved it.
I used it to escape the boredom of my life.
I did everything right, but now it was getting dark.
I turned around and I saw a man in a black shirt and jeans in the pool, wearing only his swim trunks.
He was staring at me with an unreadable look on his face.
I could see he was thinking, What am I doing here?
I looked at him.
I looked at the people in the boat.
I thought, If I just disappear, I’ll be safe.
And then I got scared.
A friend asked me to join them.
I told him I couldn’t, but that I’d go back and ask them to take me in.
Two weeks later, my friend texted me a photo of me swimming in the Ocean’s Edge.
“That’s me,” she said.
Then I had a nightmare.
It began with a woman in a white dress and white shoes sitting in the white boat, holding my hand.
Her arms were around my waist, and her breasts were pressed against my chest.
She was beautiful.
She looked like she had been there for a long time.
At first I didn.
Then I realized, That’s me.
She had been holding my arm since we were kids.
She didn’t say anything.
She just stood and stared at me.
I tried to smile, but my smile was too small.
She took my hand, but she just stared.
Finally I said something, and it was so loud that it shook the boat and shook the house and shook everything.
She started sobbing.
All my friends were swimming in this ocean, but this woman was holding my hands.
This was the moment I realized I was in the same place I had been since I was born.
On the way back to the house, I was still sobbing, but we drove home.
The next morning, my mother asked me if I was OK.
I said, Yeah, but what about the photo of the woman in the dress and shoes?
“You know,” she told me, “I thought I saw you in the photo.”
I told her, I did not see her.
After a few days of being told I was not OK, I told my mother what had happened.
She went back and took the photo.
There was nothing there.
There was nothing.
I remember thinking to myself, This is my mother’s picture.
I went to the beach, I got into the pool and I swam with the people, and then my mom saw me in that picture.
So I’ve been here, this whole time.
My mother and I have been through so much together.
Sometimes I forget that my mother and my friends have been with me all along.