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JOSH MCCOLOUGH | Resurfacing

Well, I just…. I really don’t understand how a healthy person—a strong swimmer—jumps into a body of water and does not resurface. Do you know? Because I sure as hell do not. All I know is that, if I am to believe the news, it seems to happen more often than is comfortable. For me, at least. I am a healthy, strong swimmer. I grew up on lakes. Same as her. I enjoy being on the boat. I enjoy swimming off of it. Same as her. I have jumped into a lake or river hundreds of times by this point in my life, and have always, myself, resurfaced. If the water is murky, or it’s been churned up because of all of the traffic, like it was that afternoon, I do a shallow dive—one in which I launch outward instead of downward, you know? So that if there is anything just beneath the surface—a sunken tree limb or rock bed or something otherwise unforgiving on the neck—I’m not going to nosedive into it and accordion my body on it like in the old cartoons. Like Wile E. Coyote on so many comically large anvils. I’ve kind of perfected it—the shallow dive—so that the second my fingertips on my outstretched hands break the tension of the surface, everything is in slow motion. I visualize all of it as it’s happening. I can see my fingers, right over left such that my right index is glued to the top of my left pinky nail, like this, and so forth down the line, thumbs flush against the indexes. Chin tucked, spine straight, hollow body, butt squeezed, feet together, toes pointed. Perfect form. Always perfect form. I like to aim for a twenty-five or so degree angle of entry. Olympic swimmers’ ideal angle of entry is thirty degrees, but I’m not going for distance. I'm just trying not to skim the surface like a child who is afraid of what’s down there. Anyway, I can see my fingertips breaking the surface tension, lifting a perfect skin of water three-quarters of an inch deep that envelops the rest of me as I slip perfectly underneath it. My arms, the crown of my head, then my shoulders, my butt, my legs and once I feel the water on the tips of my toes, I can gauge the perfection of the dive based on whether I hear a splash or simply a gurgle of bubbles. Much like Olympic divers. The standard is the same. You want a gurgle—not a splash. I know if it’s a 1 or a 10 just based on the sound. Without anyone telling me. I average somewhere around a 9.3. But I always resurface. I’ve never not resurfaced. So. Am I being charged with something? Have they found her yet?


Josh McColough received his MFA from the University of Iowa’s nonfiction writing program. His short fiction has appeared in Split Lip Magazine and SPLASH! (Haunted Waters Press), and his nonfiction in New World Writing. You can find more of Josh McColough's work @joshmccolough.


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