At the Pool Party for My Niece’s Graduation from Middle School
after Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), by David Hockney (UK) 1972
I’m a goner even before Leah, my brother’s new colleague, tells me her psychiatric specialty (“evaluating sexually dangerous people”), and when she reappears, resplendent in a golden-brown one-piece, I drown in desire. While Leah swims laps, I descend the ladder at the deep end, figuring I can hang on to the side faking it, never letting on I can’t swim, my eyes on the prize. Marisa, my niece’s best friend, swims up and asks if she can practice life-saving on me; Leah is watching us, and I’m figuring kindness to children is always a plus. But Marisa loses her grip and then I’m grabbing desperately at her orange bikini top and she’s yelling. By the time I reach the metal ladder, my coughing subsided, my snotty nose wiped clean, everyone has gone inside for cake. A dead bug floats on the surface, and I wonder who will save me now.
Nancy Ludmerer's fiction and flash fiction appear in Kenyon Review, New Orleans Review, Electric Literature, Mid-American Review, Grain, and Best Small Fictions 2016 (a River Styx prizewinner). In 2020, her stories won prizes from Carve, Masters Review, Pulp Literature, and Streetlight. She lives in NYC with her husband Malcolm and their recently-adopted 13-year-old cat, Joseph. Twitter: @nludmerer
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