William Reese Hamilton

Filomena is an architect and organizer, filling her life with projects and people. I am a swimmer, gliding alone through bright waters like a slim seal.

When she drew the floor plan for our house, she dropped a pool just off our dining room porch and shaped it to the property line. I was never quite sure whether it was a serious design or just something to fill an empty space, but it immediately seemed perfect.

She wanted a social pool, where friends could sit and stand and float, listening to music and conversing with piña coladas and cuba libres in their hands. I insisted on a pool where I could do laps. So the deep part is a rectangle ten meters long and two and a half wide. But one end opens out another two meters, forming a triangle of steps descending the length of the pool like underwater bleachers.

Filomena once said she dreamed of floating in our pool under the stars, listening to Vivaldi. My dream is different, for in reality the pool is best at high noon with the tropic sun beating down. The small Mexican mosaic tiles are light blue, as close as she could get to the color of the sky above the white beaches of Los Roques. The border tiles are a rich Colombian terracotta. Water glistens and refracts azure, like a living David Hockney. I swim laps underwater through a field of diamonds. Can't get enough. It's not exercise, it's a hallucinogenic trip.

This night, like so many nights now, I am alone, sitting at the end of the pool, listening to Pedro Infante singing boleros, watching the pool lights play across those stairs. Not another soul for at least a quarter mile.

"Pasaste a mi lado con gran indiferencia," Pedro sings. "You passed me by with great indifference." Like Filomena, who has tired of the stillness of paradise and me. Filomena, who must forever move on.

A full moon rises over the mijaos, chasing the shadows from under the banana trees. Perhaps I am sharing what was once Filomena's dream. I balance for a moment the impermanence of human relationships against the eternal beauty of the night. The water glows a magical blue in the silver light. Dogs begin to howl and bark throughout the valley. A cock crows, thinking it's dawn. I can't resist a sudden urge, take off my clothes and dive in.

There in the shadowed depths I hear Vivaldi and Filomena's sigh of ecstasy.

William Reese Hamilton lives in coastal Venezuela. He's had stories in The Paris Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, North American Review, Night Train and others.

To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200910piscina.htm

Photo detail on main page courtesy of DQ8.

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