Nonfiction from Sidney Dritz

Photo: Megan Markham

I Miss My Nemesis  

It’s frivolous but my lease ends in September and I wanted one more summer with the pool just two blocks away, so close that I wouldn’t even need to decide to go swimming, I’d just let my feet have their way, barely stopping to slip into sandals on my way out the door; down the road, round the corner past the liquor store; through the tiled, beige anteroom to the changing rooms, and then straight into the chlorine-blue water.

I have a nemesis there at the pool, though he doesn’t know it. I don’t swim during lap-swim times because I can’t quite swim in a straight line; I lap my way across the pool in meandering backstroke zig-zags, but at least I try not to get in anyone’s way. I try to choose a section no one else is in, and to keep my imprecise flailing to myself, or as to myself as possible in a community swimming pool teeming with summer camp kids.

This man doesn’t seem to feel any such compulsion.

Instead, he swims along one side of the pool, then turns at a right angle to swim along the connecting edge, and then the next, and then the next, circling the edges of the pool, so that any quadrant I choose to swim in, all I have to do is wait a few minutes before he’s swimming towards me. Sometimes he switches directions as he follows the pool around its edges, just to keep me guessing. I am not sure I have ever in my life felt this level of fury towards a person whose name I don’t know, but now I suspect I won’t be seeing him carving his way through the artificially bright water, heading towards me obnoxiously, again this summer, and, preemptively, I miss him.

I wanted one more summer, and I suppose I could still have it. But even if we’re out of lockdown by the time summer comes around, I can’t imagine anyone feeling all that safe flinging their sweating, breathing half-naked bodies through a shared accumulation of public water any time soon, no matter how heavily chlorinated it is, no matter how much we may miss each other.

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Sidney Dritz is a former copywriter, currently on-pause popcorn professional who finished her three-college tour of America at the University of Southern Maine. Her poetry has recently appeared in Glass Poetry Press’s #PoetsResist series and in Claw & Blossom, and her horror stories have appeared in anthologies published by Soteira Press. You can follow her work as it develops on twitter at @sidneydritz.

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