Birth of the Hippo

A Story

by Jerry D. Mathes II

The first night Tracy Jane sneaked into the municipal pool she feared being seen in her swimsuit. She felt it looked like a spinnaker in a gale. The temperature hovered in the nineties, and she was sweating. She winced at the rattle of the chain on the gate, her great shadow cast under the moonlight, and the splash as she lowered her bulk into the dark water. The late travelers’ thrum of tires and car engines from the highway and the occasional dog barking at imagined trespassers broke the stillness. After she slid in, she went under, spun to the bottom, and pushed her body up, a dried leaf on the current. She twirled and rolled and felt ease slip into her burdened joints, released from gravity’s awkwardness into the cradle of the water. She became transfigured into a swallow in flight, or as she said to herself: a hippo in the rainy season.

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