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Story About a Hotel Pool 

It’s a Tuesday night and there’s a Barbie shoe lodged in my throat. A little girl is pushing her doll into one of my jet streams, pretending she’s swimming down a waterfall, while her parents argue in my deep end. She hasn’t noticed that one pink plastic heel has slipped off. She is trying not to notice a lot of things. 

The floaties tied around her arms taste like latex, sweet and bitter. The rush of my circulatory system is louder than the quiet furious spitting of the adults, but only just. 

“I can’t believe you’re doing this on fucking vacation,” her mom says. I engorge her bleach-bitter hair with myself, tinting it chemical green. Her mascara streams down her face and estuaries into my belly. 

Two drunk guys walk into my natatorium and get in the hot tub. They’re playing “Free Bird” on a cell phone speaker and singing along and trading swigs from a bottle of Everclear, even though food and beverages are not allowed inside. The little girl wobbles the doll around, topsy-turvy, pretending she’s drunk on chlorine. 

I pretend I’m the ocean and the little girl is a dolphin swimming through me, uninhibited and sleek and playful. I pretend that my breath is the life-giving cycle of evaporation and precipitation, of infinity. For a moment I remember what it is to be vast, maybe endless, dangerous and magnificent. 

My daydream ends when the family climbs out of me and marches in soggy flip-flops out onto the hotel carpet. The drunk guys have fallen asleep in the hot tub. I gather the debris that they’ve left in me—wet Band-Aids, skin cells, a butterfly hair clip—suck it into my drains, and circulate, purifying myself in an endless loop. 

  • Taylor Thomas is a senior majoring in History and the world’s biggest fan of Diet Dr. Pepper. 

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