KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Flash Fiction: 952 words


by Pat Tompkins

“You did bring your suit, didn’t you?” Janice asked. At four on a June Sunday afternoon, her thighs were sticking to the car seat.

Allen nodded as they jostled along a dirt road. “But where are we going swimming?” They’d spent the day visiting country towns, stopping at dim and dusty used bookstores, library sales, church fairs in search of appealing books that some fool was selling for a dollar. The bargains were as much of an attraction as the books. Today they’d found a stray volume of the “Yellow Book,” a literary magazine from the 1890s; the lightly foxed pages included work by Henry James and Aubrey Beardsley. Janice had been thrilled to get it for five dollars; the owner thought it was good riddance. Value depended on desire.

“We’re almost there.” Janice said when the dirt road intersected pavement. “Take a left at Locust.” She smiled, thinking of how good the water would feel. “OK, turn in here and park.”

“Here?” He pulled into a parking lot gleaming with new cars. A driveway led to the entrance of Creekwood Resort, styled like an antebellum plantation.

“Remember that conference my boss sent me to in March?” Janice said. “This is the place.”

“We can’t afford to stay here.”

“No kidding. We’re not. We’re just going to swim.” She got out of the dented Honda and looped her straw bag’s handles over her shoulder. “Come on. They have a great pool.”

“Wait a minute. We can’t just waltz in there and use their pool.”

“Sure we can. It’s not locked up. Nobody cares.”

They walked across the lot. “This way,” Janice pointed. “There are changing rooms, showers, stacks of towels. They’re practically waiting for us.”

They could see the pool now, a rectangle of shimmering pale blue, 60 feet long, 20 feet wide. Only two people were swimming. But the patio was ringed with sunbathers, dozing and basting among thick paperbacks and tall drinks.

Janice nudged Allen with an elbow. “See? And no kids allowed. We’ll practically have the pool to ourselves.”

“What if we get caught?”

“We won’t. Trust me.”

“Trust you? It’d be pretty embarrassing to get thrown out of here.”

She rolled her eyes. “What a stick in the mud you are. I’ve done this before. I told you—no one cares. These rich people are too dumb to even use the pool. They’re just working on their skin cancer.”

“What do you mean, you’ve done this before?”

“Not here, other places. You know I love to swim. It’s a sin to waste a pool.”

“Ever hear of trespassing?” Allen said.

“OK, sit in the car and roast if you want. I’m going swimming.”

“Oh, no. I’m not missing this.” He followed her through the gap in the hedge fence. While she went into the women’s room, he found a chair in the shade and surveyed the scene scented with cocoa butter and jasmine. Bumblebees darted among the snapdragons near him.

Janice emerged in a sleek neon blue suit; its high neck and straps crossed at the back minimized resistance in the water. Years of lap swimming at the Y had sculpted her shoulders and hips. From a trio of pitchers, she poured a glass of iced tea, took a sip, and brought it over to Allen. “Watch my purse.”

“OK, but we’re not exactly surrounded by thieves here.”

“You never know.” She squinted at the sunlight bouncing off the water. “Take off your shoes. Relax.”

He watched her walk down shallow steps into the pool without hesitation. She stroked and kicked in a steady crawl the length of the pool, back and forth, as if in a marked lane, for 20 minutes. Allen removed his shirt and shoes, hoping to appear less conspicuous. He crunched through all the ice in the glass.

When Janice got out, she wrapped herself in a towel and sat next to Allen. “That was wonderful. Why don’t you go in? It’s so refreshing.”

Even with sunglasses hiding his eyes, she saw that he was not going to budge. “The water temperature is perfect.” She glanced around. “I’m the only woman here wearing a suit designed for swimming.”

“How about a drink?” he said.

“Want some more iced tea? I’ll get it.”

“No, I mean a drink drink.” He hailed a white jacketed waiter. “A mint julep, please.” he said. “Honey, what would you like?” She shook her head. He never called her honey when he was in a good mood. “Make that two.”

“Certainly, sir. And your room number?”

“It’s two, let’s see, two...”

“Two eighty-six,” Janice said. He nodded.

As soon as the waiter was out of earshot, she hissed, “Are you out of your mind? Do you want to get caught?”

He shrugged. “As long as we’re being sneaks, we may as well enjoy it.”

“It’s not the same thing.”

“It certainly is.”

“The pool is here. It’s free. It’s not costing the hotel anything for me to swim. Those drinks aren’t free.”

“Somebody’s going to have to launder that towel you used. Someone has to clean the pool. Someone...”

Janice stood up. “Fine. If you want to ruin things.” She left for the shower. Soon she returned with her wet suit in a plastic bag. Water from her slicked-back hair trickled down her neck. “Let’s go.”

“But our drinks haven’t arrived yet.”

“That’s the idea. Come on.” She walked along the patio, forcing herself not to rush. Guests at Creekwood never hurried. At the hedge she turned back and saw Allen sipping a mint julep, his feet propped on the chair she’d been sitting in.

Pat Tompkins
Issue 2, Winter 2015

is an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her short stories have appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Mslexia, and flashquake. Her nonfiction publications include reviews, essays, and two books for grade-school children.

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