The End-Of-The-World Pool
by Scott M. Roberts
The pool was as warm as sweat. Evan kicked away from the surface, algae shifting and bumping against his bare legs. Even with his mouth squeezed tight, he could taste the foulness of the water, like it had seeped through his ears to touch the back of his throat.
There’d been no squares edging the poolside, advertising the depth. It could be ten feet, twelve feet, a thousand feet deep. Evan couldn’t sense the bottom or the surface. All around him, floaties and foulness and warm water, like piss. He was swimming through a toilet, that’s what, and maybe he’d gotten in the bend without realizing it, and what if someone flushed?
Evan opened his eyes. Light blurred above him, at the end of the angle of his skinny body. And below him, more water, darker and deeper. He stretched his arms, kicked his legs, and pushed on. Pushed in, he thought, through slick, sweaty water.
The water grew cooler the deeper he swam. He kept his eyes open, despite how they burned. The light above dwindled, and then was gone, and the water didn’t end. That wasn’t right — where the pool was dark and deep, that was where the bottom had to be. Covered by a layer of muck, maybe; maybe inches of decaying leaves blown into the pool during the winter. But water and quiet surrounded him instead.
Quiet. He couldn’t hear Dad and Uncle Hector banging on the deck. He couldn’t even hear the bubbles when he let some air out of his lungs. Evan swiped at the water, edging deeper. His fingers touched sand. Sand. At the bottom of a pool.
Something touched him back.