Pippa Possible and Tora Estep

Tora Estep
“Inspired by Klee”
Inspiration piece

Below the Surface
by Pippa Possible

Twelve years old, she is strong and lean. Two years old, my little arms drape around her neck. My legs wrap around her waist. We dunk below the surface.

We are swimming in a lake of water so clear, we can see details as through a magnifying glass.

Every multicolored mottled stone and pebble. Every fish, illuminated by the midsummer midday sun. Scales glistening sequins. The air smells of aloe-vera sunscreen, and campfire smoke. The sun is direct, and immediately hot on my back. The water is comfortably cool, near tepid. Goose bumps still appear on my wet arms.

Below the surface, my sister and I are surrounded by fish. We swim rapidly through occasional schools of them. Synchronized swimmers. We attempt to join their underwater dance. Fish disperse in random directions upon our intervention. A few fish swim toward us, near enough.

I imagine that I can pet them with my bare hands. I want to pet these fishes as I have learned to pet cats and dogs, gently and calmly. A fish makes eye contact with me, before flitting rapidly away.

We are pretending to be a dolphin. My sister, the swimmer. She propels us through the water using the force of her strong legs. I feel safe, attached to my sister’s back, like a barnacle. In this moment, I can gauge my own strength. I hold on firmly. She brings us close to the bed of the lake.

My sister and I explore the bright depths. The water magnifies details. Rays of sunlight filter through the water from above. Illumination. We glide across the bed of the lake, slowly. My toes graze across the slick pebbles. Fish now swim beside us, seemingly undisturbed and unperturbed.

My lungs begin to burn. I signal to my sister with a light pinch on the shoulder. She changes direction and kicks fiercely, thrusting us rapidly to breach at the surface. Lob-tailing, we create as much splashing as we can. I am the blowhole, loudly coughing and spitting water into the air. Gasping to inhale as deeply as my lungs can bear.

Scorched breaths!

We can hear our parents at the shore, laughing at how silly we appear. My mother is sitting at the blue picnic table, tending to charlie-horses in her feet. My father is tending to the campfire, poking at kindling with a stick.

Below the surface, the fish again are scarce. Our dolphin act has frightened them away. I want to remain below, resting on the cool slick pebbles until the fish feel safe to return. I want to befriend these fishes, and swim with them, in synchronous movements. I want to grow gills, so my need for air will not frighten them away. I want to stay here with them, below the surface.



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