Today the game in the pool became, get Millie’s earring off the bottom. Earring: not the word for the black, pointed cones plugging and extending an inch outward from distended lobes. The game had been Toypedo, the Weapon of Class Instruction. She was twisting in the water, her dreads spiraling like a nebula, when one of the ear-things came free. I thought it was made of wood, but no, it wasn’t much for floating, unlike Millie, who floats like a dream. It sat there on the bottom, while she and Sarah tried and tried to get down to it, and finally Millie did, but then her other one came off, not only that, the little rubber ring that does who-knows-what was down there, too, exhibiting an uncanny ability to scoot to a black stripe and disappear every time one of the women got close.
She’s not working anymore. Retirement or disability, I’m not sure which. Everyday’s a weekend, she said with a look that made me ask if she likes it that way. Yes she does.
I should have known, that look doesnt mean what it seems. Gruff is her method and her mask, a crust, like burnt sugar on a crème brulee. That’s mostly how it seems, but make no mistake, she won’t be messed with. She confronted Stephanie for taking “my seat” at the start of the third class, a challenge that Stephanie, young enough to be her daughter, handled with aplomb, even as she moved.
That’s on land. In the water Millie lies back and smiles.