Pools of Comfort

William rubbed the crust out of his eyes as he stumbled through the gate behind most of his team. Groggy eyes peeked out from hoodies as the boys mumbled greetings on their way to the locker room. The black sky gave no hint of the approaching dawn. The cold white concrete of the floor and building created a slight shiver in William as he crossed the threshold. Warm layers were regretfully peeled off until only thin speedos remained.

The morning walk from the locker room to the pool was a rite of pain and passage. A bitter wind stung the boys’ bare skin as feet shuffled quickly across the cold concrete. William wrapped his arms around his torso and rubbed in an attempt to warm himself.

A gravelly voice called out snidely, “Had a good break fish?” William sighed and closed his eyes in annoyance as he recognized the voice. “Did’ja hear me fish?” said Brock, a blonde haired sneering boy who strolled towards William. An unusual scent of salt caused William’s nose to wrinkle. He wanted to turn to investigate whether the smell was coming from the pool but Brock was in front of him and William knew better than to turn in front of an enemy.  

“D’ya really think you’re gonna start in my event again this year little fish?” whispered Brock dangerously. “Last year you took all the best events because you’re supposed to be some kind of prodigy. Well? What are you waiting for?” And without waiting for an answer stepped forward with eyes red and palms cold to shove William’s chest hard. “Get back to work little fish.”  followed William as his body flailed backwards and plunged into the water.

William kept his eyes shut tight and stayed underwater for as possible so that he could delay the jeers. The scent of salt seemed to pervade even here underwater-maybe someone had dropped some in by accident or decided to change over but somehow William didn’t think so; the school pool had always been chlorine. His lungs began to burn slightly so he kicked upwards towards the surface.                                                                 

The moment his head broke the surface towards fresh air he knew that several of his senses must be wrong. Firstly, there couldn’t be seagulls at school, they lived hundreds of miles from the ocean and there were clearly two flying right above him. Secondly, his nose insisted on telling him that the pool was saltwater and his mouth was left with a briny aftertaste. Lastly, that he should be no longer in his school’s half Olympic size pool but what seemed to be in the middle of some great body of water with no land in sight.

Panic threatened to overwhelm him as he struggled to maintain his treading water and sputtering water. How in the world did he come to be here? Maybe he had hit his head on the pool floor and was now in a coma. He pinched himself in an attempt to test this theory and indeed felt a sharp pain on his upper forearm. So much for that. A mounting feeling of fear filled William as he swam frantically in circles trying to decide on a course of action. Then he stopped spinning and shut his eyes as he had done under the water.

Slowly, William’s breathing normalized as he focused on what he could do. This was clearly not a dream or some sort of hallucination. Somehow, he had been dropped into an unknown ocean to die. This thought fledged itself at the forefront of William’s mind and caused his fear to transform into an angry rebellious attitude towards all those concerned. At who or whatever had caused him to be in this predicament. At Brock for his hate. At himself for thinking that he would die. So he did the only thing one can do in such a situation: He swam forward.

The sea of life can be an unknown and frightening place but you should make the swim forward rather than piddling in circles in your pool of a comfort zone.

12 thoughts on “Pools of Comfort

  1. Really imaginative blog post ,I particularly enjoyed the line “The sea of life can be an unknown and frightening place but you should make the swim forward rather than piddling in circles in your pool of a comfort zone.” As it reminded me of the poet Percy Shelley. A poet from the romantic era who drowned whilst rowing on lake Windermere
     ((I think)) . This reminded me of the sublime. Very well done.
    ~SS

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! I really liked that line too it was one of those rare moments of extreme clarity where disjointed thinking comes together in an aha moment. I appreciate being compared to a renowned poet, you’re too sweet. Thanks again for reading, hope to see you around my corner of the Internet again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Roderick, love the photo, the comfort of a living room for reading. I too am an apprentice when it comes to struggling with words. I have learned that less is more and from your story I see you like to over write, adjectives and adverbs. This slows action and the image for the reader.
    An example is: “A bitter wind stung the boys’ bare skin as feet shuffled quickly across the cold concrete.”
    Better: The wind stung their skin as they shuffled over the cold concrete.

    Why say bitter and stung , ‘when it stings it is therefore bitter. The boys are already dressed in their speedos, we have that image, hence there is no need to say bare skin..Try not to separate the feet from the boys, the feet cannot shuffle on their own – unless we have some weird Zombie thing going on.

    I appreciate these stories are written without any close editing and therefore take my observations as just that, my intention is to reinforce my understanding of the writers craft.

    Great take on the prompt.
    All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi James, first of all thank you so much for the developed comment and constructive criticism-it is very much appreciated! Indeed I have a problem with writing pedantically and empurpling my prose. You’re right in saying that I don’t edit these pieces from anything but a shallow perspective so knowing my weaknesses is incredibly helpful so that I can actively work around them. You have a greater understanding of the art of writing than myself, so any future advice and comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for the read and your time sir.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much!! I really appreciate the kind words, I’m trying to develop that style of writing enough depth into the span of a single page so that it feels like a novel’s depth. I’m very glad you saw that, it’s cool for other people to affirm a part of the creative vision you as the artist have in mind upon writing the piece.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have learned a lovely, new word from you, “empurpling”, whose utterance evokes images of a bruised, torturous corraling of words, to get them into shape. I, for one, appreciate such modifiers, as, otherwise: Romeo loved Juliet; they both took poison and died; The End.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course you are quite right that there must be a balance of descriptive language with that which is being described lest time stops and we’re subjected to a chronological account of how every crack in the wall was made and the personalities of the men that originally built the wall, etc into utter absurdity. Thus, a balance is needed so that we writers can get words into shape, as you so aptly put it, as if our words are fruit and that by selecting the right kinds of fruit we can put together a unique creative display of our selected fruit. In for example, a salad on display rather than a crushing through over embellishment as if

      Liked by 1 person

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