28 Day Writing Challenge #16

By , Elk Grove, CA

Swim.
The rain forced Kevin to go for a swim. Funny how that works. The streets were flooded, it was unusually rainy for a day in summer. Dripping and drowning all the helpless insects. The homeless were equally helpless. Kevin sat up on his bench when the first few drops kissed his forehead. How different to be awaken by the sensation. Cold water falling on your face. It made him feel very alive, dangerously so. A consistent and constant reminder. You are alive! Keep on living, even if it's a miserable existence. What else is there to do? The answer was unpleasant but not a stranger to Kevin. He meandered up, grabbed his baduffel bag from its cozy spot under the bench. It should be a higher note that the rain was a forced shower and would help with Kevin's aroma. Where to go in the storm, he wondered. The shelter nagged at the back of his mind but he never felt like he really belonged there, since, as previously mentioned, he chose to be homeless. Asceticism without a point. He didn't own an umbrella so he first retreated to under a hanging tarp in front of a store. He looked down the left of the street. Then the right. The water made the ground look slippery like a fish struggling for life. Slick black tar. Kevin looked down at his feet as he walked, tracing the small ripples of water in the sidewalk. Somewhere around the corner was the sound of a door slamming shut, a heavy metal clank. He headed that way. When he got there, he read the sign above the door. 'Public Pool'. Open from 5:00AM to 9:00 PM. He didn't know the time but he turned the knob. It was unlocked. The place was swarming with people of all ages. He directed himself, his wet feet shuffling and his bag dripping, to the front desk. The stench of chlorine was invading his nose, and he longed to be back out in the world where it smelled nice. But. This was warm. This was safe. Even the warmest downpour can give a man hypothermia- or some lesser affliction that would make him need to go to the hospital. He pays for a ticket and walks to the adult swim pool. Wrinkled senior citizens were too self-indulged to glance as he walked in, his shoes making a thumping sound against the concrete floor. He sat in a plastic chair away from the water. He was wet enough. He tried to close his eyes but the bright halogen lights parallel to the ground were blinding. The blackness was replaced by a burning red orange when he closed his eyes. The pool was empty. A lot of the people in here had been here a while. They didn't even know it was pouring outside. It was a secret Kevin bared inside him. One of so many. There was a clock on the wall, and he decided to wait here an hour and a half. He gazed at the edge of the water. It was undisturbed and still. He tried to concentrate so he might be as still as the water. Someone was looking for him, but he didn't know it. Under the rain he was just like a bug, unable to do anything but seek shelter from the rain. Next to the pool he was closer to a god of sorts, above the water and able to gaze down upon it. Powerful. The time slipped by as he meditated by the water. His olfactory senses went dead of the smell of chlorine. The person looking for him gave up. Kevin had given up looking for anything a long time ago. He smelled like the rain and he looked like a product of it. Water weary and middle aged with no place to belong. Kevin had chosen to be homeless and chosen to come in from the rain. But he was not in control of his life. He didn't realize he had succumbed to the overwhelming desire to give up, because to him he chose to stop. To stop going to work or the library or to his family or home. There is a difference between making a choice and leaving it up to chance. You choose to fill up public pools so you have a place to swim, but you can't choose to let the rain fall.






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