Adam Quirk

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Couples Therapy: YMCA

What is our couple up to today?

As they swim, concentrating on form and breathing rather than speed, they begin to sink. Strong swimmers both, they immediately sense that something is wrong with the water in this pool. Indeed, they were sinking deep down into the murky depths of their neighborhood YMCA’s Senior Fitness and Youth Classes pool. In the weeks past, the Lap Pool at their Y was closed for renovation, so our couple was forced into the temporary lanes of this pool. 

As fate would have it, elderly skin fluids, bandaids and urine, plus children’s diarrhea residuum had coalesced with the excessive chlorine to cause a spontaneous whirlpool in the deep end of Temporary Lap Lane #2, just past the exit ladder in the deep end. Oblivious, our young couple had become the victims of what is known in YMCA circles as a “hair hole” due to the bits of hair usually seen floating in their centers. Little is known, and even less said about the phenomenon. But all YMCA lifeguards know the remedy. The teenage girl on duty looked up from her purple plastic phone just in time to see our couple’s legs sticking straight up out of the water like four glistening turds spinning their way down a toilet bowl.

She sprang into action, dropping her phone carelessly onto the “No Running” letters stenciled carefully below her chair. She pried a smallish metal tin from underneath her chair, and as she ran towards our couple, reached in and pulled out a two-inch round disk of chalk-like substance. When she reached the couple, only the tips of their toes were still above the water. She tossed the white disk into the water just beside their toes, and stood back. Within a second, the water level in the pool had dropped by a foot. In another ten, it was all gone.

Our couple remained, wheezing and stunned, on the hair-and-bandage-spotted bottom of the deep end of the pool. They climbed out slowly, slipped clumsily on the slimy tile floor on their way back to the locker room, showered separately, and walked hand in hand towards their home. They spoke very little. The lap pool would open back up next week. They decided to wait for that.

Filed under short story long reads fiction couples therapy

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