Poolside

Flash fiction.

February 2022

I watch you push off the edge of the pool, your long legs kicking out behind you.

The water ripples up to my chin, splashes into my eyes, but I don’t mind. How often do I get to watch you like this? Not nearly enough. I can’t believe how much you’ve grown. I tell you this, after your third lap, and you hang off the wet tiles with one hand, breathing hard.

“It’s only been a year.”

“I know. Can you believe it? My little Emmett.”

You smile bashfully, just like you did when you where a toddler, as charismatic then as you are now. Your shoulders have squared, out of proportion to the rest of you, waiting to be filled out. You cross the pool with three strokes of your arms. One of them winds around my neck. I forget to take a breath before you plunge me underwater because I’m laughing, and you’re laughing, and I don't care if the chlorine gets into my nose.

I poke your ribs to wrestle free. By the time I’ve wiped the hair from my face, you’ve shot away already. The sun glints sharply off your teeth.

“Yeah, yeah. Big strong man. I bet Mum still packs your lunches.”

You pretend not to smile. “Whatever.”

I smile so wide I feel my ears move. “Whatever.”