When I left the yo-lattes class last night, I got the smell of the chlorine, and heard the splashing and laughing.
Sometimes that is all it takes.
Sometimes it is songs I heard at the pool when I was 7 1/2. You know that song by 10cc...I'm not in love. Sometimes it is that Seasons in the Sun song, I am not even sure who sang that.
It used to be newspaper carrier bags, the dirty white ones, with the bright orange reflective tape. No one carries them anymore.
I do remember that summer when I was 7 1/2.
I remember swimming all day long as usual. Walking home wet, and barefooted on the shaded side of the street with my older sister. We run into the newspaper boy Roger. I remember Roger handing my Sister the paper. I remember my Sister saying "I am not supposed to let her see it", as she carefully folded it. She said it out loud, with me standing right there, like I was invisible. Of course being 7 1/2 I begged to see the paper. "What am I not supposed to see", I said. My Sister quickly explains to me, my parents made her swear that she would not tell me. "Tell me what?"
I will add here, that I had 2 good friends when I was in school. They were quiet girls. We were poor girls, thrift store girls. For some reason, even at age 7 that mattered, although I don't think WE knew why we were excluded. One of these girls was fair and blonde and almost WASP looking. A turned up nose and freckles. , the other very beautiful, thick, wavy long, dark hair, olive skin and dark eyes. We were in "gifted group" together,and had such fun working independently on projects, and book reports. WE had been to each others homes,played dolls, read poems into a small recorder, and built dioramas. My Sister had even babysat for my dark haired friend, and her 3 little sisters on several occasions.
My Sister tells me my beautiful dark haired friend was dead. I can recall that moment right now. How at 7 1/2, I problem solved in my head, and knew she was dead from illness, because 7 year old girls don't just die unless they are sick. "Did she have Measles?" My Sister answered "no". Did she have some sort of flu?" I asked. "No" again.
"So what happened?" I asked. I remember feeling empty inside, with a singular butterfly flapping its sickened wings in my chest. I remember all of the beautiful shades of green turned dimmer, and everything looked the way it does right before a tornado, that sick green color. I cannot remember hearing anything, except for that newspaper unfolding.
I look at it, and it is a large photo of my girlfriend, her Mother, her Father, and her 3 little sisters. They are smiling in this professionally taken photograph. I remember the photo being in color, and I remember one of the little girls had a bright yellow dress on.
"Her Mom killed them."
I cannot recall much after that. I don't remember crying. We lived in a sleepy Midwest town, and I recall hearing the adults around me whispering, and stopping when I came into the room. I can recall driving by the house, and looking at the little gray/blue house on the corner with yellow police tape wrapped around it. I remember hearing my Father say "No one will ever want to live there, they should just tear it down."
When the summer at the pool was over, I went back to school expecting to see her. She was not there. My little blonde friend with the turned up nose and I mentioned it once, and we never spoke again. I guess it would have been too much. We even graduated from the same school, but in all of those years nothing was said. We separated from one another.
I wonder if Kay ever smells chlorine, or hears a song, and thinks of her.