Blue Lake

A fat bald man swam toward us. If it had been a different day, a typical day with a dozen other children diving and splashing in the lake, I wouldn’t have noticed, but my best friend, Beth, and I were the only ones in the water.

Something in the way he moved seemed off. Usually grown-ups glided across the water on their stomachs, stroking and kicking and leaving a trail of foam and bubbles. This man wasn’t using his legs at all. He was practically standing, and bobbed up and down the way Beth and I did when we reenacted the shark attack scene from Jaws.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

Beth shrugged. “Dunno.”

He paddled his arms under the water, then seemed to let his whole body submerge. As he went down his thick, pasty arms shot out of the water and toward the sky. His hands were the last to go under, pressed together into a little steeple. When his head came back up, he mouthed at the air. He looked like a very drunk Esther Williams performing water ballet. I tried not to stare—my mother was always on my case about manners, and staring was rude—but that little steeple reminded me of an exclamation point. I kept watching him.

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