Face down in the pool, Victoria’s body was completely still. Short tendrils of hair spread out from her head like Medusa’s snakes. Her limbs had given in to the currents, no longer in control of her muscles. Not breathing in. Not breathing out. Under the water there was only silence. Dead man’s float.
Is this what it’s like to be dead? It’s so peaceful. But it’s boring.
A whistle sounded, filtering through the water. Victoria and the rest of her swim team quietly raised their heads to the surface.
“Breathe!” yelled Coach. They breathed. “Again!” Twenty sleek heads submerged again. This was coach’s version of breathing practice. He said he wanted everyone to develop their lungs for endurance.
Still once again, Victoria enjoyed the warmth and silence of the water until her mind wandered back to the night before.
“We lived in the same town all this time, and we never got together. She used to be my best friend. I just can’t believe she’s gone,” Mom had said on the way to the funeral.
Victoria could feel the panic rising again in her blood. She couldn’t breathe to calm herself, so she started counting. One… two… three… Mom approached the coffin bawling—just like in the movies where the weeping widow clutches a hankie to cover her distorted mouth and dripping nose, except Mom’s wasn’t a hankie, it was wadded up toilet paper. Were they real tears? Well, they were real, but were they tears of sadness or regret? Thirteen… fourteen… fifteen…