One of Two

At two years old, Annabelle fell into a pool. Just dropped in and floated down through the water like an egg dropped through soup all the way to the bottom where she settled. She didn’t swim at all but it didn’t occur to her to be afraid. Instead she crossed her legs for fun and watched them float off the floor. Her body twisted sideways and she realized being on the bottom of the pool could be a big problem and figured things could go two ways. She could be afraid, or she could just get out of the pool and she knew that being afraid would not get her out of the pool so she decided to climb the walls with their uneven bricks that looked just like simple steps made just for her. No one had noticed she was gone until she appeared dripping wet in front of her mother who screamed and fell off her lawn chair practically stabbing Annabelle in the face with her lit cigarette. Annabelle was confused. Shouldn’t they have a party with some cupcakes?

Not long after, Annabelle found herself in camp taking swimming lessons. The teachers were annoyed and mad because she progressed too quickly outgrowing classes the same day she was put into them. Annabelle wanted to please her teachers and wondered why—if she was doing so well—they were not smiling at her. She decided to ignore her teachers, and ignore the kids who were staring at her like she was a Martian with two heads, and make her own class. They ignored her too. In gym class at school, the teacher put some music on and Annabelle began to leap and spin. The teacher told her to stop but Annabelle could not stop. The music had filled the echo-ey gym and grabbed hold of her body. Annabelle could not stop until she had filled the gym with her body in flight, until the song had ended. As she stood before class, the cluster of small eyes around the teacher who grew like a stalk out of the center of them, she was ecstatic with her chest pounding and heaving for breath. She wondered at the distant confused looks, why weren’t they happy like she was? She heard the teacher say, “Just ignore her” and for the rest of the class and the rest of her years at school until she was twelve, it was like she didn’t exist.

It hurt and she felt bad, like there was something irrevocably wrong with her, like she was broken and could not be fixed and limped through her life not getting picked for teams, and pretending for the sake of the one friend she had, to not be friends so as not to taint her friend’s popularity. Then one day in the girls bathroom while being informed about how incredibly disgusting she was by one of the others, Annabelle decided not to care at all and snubbed all the sneers and comments. This made her terribly popular. But by then, the other’s had become incredibly uninteresting to Annabelle and the concept of her own popularity was of no use to her at all.

As an adult, Annabelle’s boyfriends were a series of broken toys that needed fixing and she had a cat she found in the street that was missing an eye and couldn’t be touched. Her friends were equal portions brilliant, and incredibly alcoholic. One day, she met a boy who almost drowned in the ocean when he was small. He was passionate, and wise and held a profound fear of water. They fell deeply in love and Annabelle taught him how to swim.