Chapter 3 – Pool


– Pool –

Valkyrie looks up to the sky – she is 2.5 and is floating on her back gazing up at the clouds. Her lungs are filling, breathing has stopped – she is drowning. The odd shapes and colours are drawing her in, she is not afraid or resisting.

I, Leerie, am standing beside the tree looking at the pool. I have already kicked the bucket. That happened a year before. I willingly died in syrupy amniotic fluid and noise;  my personal sacrifice to give Valkyrie a future and forego mine – and be in a space in the breeze.

The water is clear and blue and the pool is rectangular and dingy.  Too deep to stop a little girl from shifting into other ways and spaces.  As I look at her, I can sense the rolling kaleidoscope of Valkyrie’s future, with colourful ribbons of sounds fleeting across the air – there is more life here to be had, than there is not.

In my breezy state I bang on imagined metal bin lids and go shouting around the backdoor of the house in front of the pool. I am trying to pierce through into the other space and alert the arguing parents. There is a child drowning alone in the pool! Between the unhappiness on their faces and their screeching retorts to each other they are somehow moved to go to the backdoor. I see them looking at the pool.

[Valkyrie] … I can feel the water softly dousing my ears, as I bob above and below the surface. The sky shimmers and dilutes.
I can hear an eerie ocean hum and then bright flecks of bird-song against the backdrop of noisy daytime. The sky above is arcing around me like a tennis stadium roof and I see huge white sea-creature clouds collapsing and reforming. Am I being lifted up and into a cloud?

The truth is she stepped into the water to end her life. It sounds dramatic but it was really just a matter-of-fact solution, to an equation, where she assessed that living for the next 12.5 years with this lot was an intolerable proposition. I understood her computation – it would be better to ditch this life, now, and ride the karmic wheel until something better comes along.

[Valkyrie] … all at the same time, I feel like I am air and water and wrapped tightly in a rough, clinging hessian blanket. It is hard to discern, but in the distance I can hear a bell or a car horn. I forget where I am but there’s that distant bell again, is it louder? Oh, and again, the bell, it seems quite near to me now. Overlaying stripes of pictures and moving volumes of sounds in my dissolving mind, and then a burst of wild galloping and thundering towards me. The sounds are so loud that I think they will crush me. It gets closer and closer and suddenly big-knuckled hands grab me and I am dragged along the burning water’s edge, scooped up like a huge pile of seaweed carrying half the ocean. l am hung upside down, to dry? The sky, clouds and shapes drain from my face and chest and pour on to the ground. My eyes look around blinking and over there, I see a shape that is standing beside a tree.
I think she knows me.

The scene was more violent than it needed to be. Valkyrie’s father went from standing at the back door, to bolting towards the pool with flailing arms and jagged leaps. On the way he notices the neighbour – a kind, old man standing near the fence with a look of concern on his face – he is frowning at the pool. Valkyrie’s father, embarrassed and enraged by the neighbour’s witnessing of his negligence, takes a sudden detour, and runs towards the man to punch him in the face. With blood on his knuckle, he then turns and resumes running towards the pool. When he reaches it, he dives in fully clothed and swearing. The water swallows his words and, in much commotion and splashing, Valkyrie is suddenly lifted into the air like an unexpected water feature or an offering to the gods. Her mother is there but is far away in thought, trying to recall the last insult she had hurled to the knuckle, only moments before. She was also looking at the blood dripping from the neighbour’s nose – then remembered her insult:  “… you think I find you as attractive as Con?”

Valkyrie survives … but later … her father is gone.