What comes out of her mouth and the looks she gives me are unfiltered: Are you nuts, asking me if I want to let go of the wall? “Of course I don’t want to. But I will. I will if you want me to do that, but you stay right there and don’t move, okay you’re going to stay there, right, I’m fine, I’m fine. See?” She lunges to grasp the wall, though she couldn’t sink if she tried. “How did I do?”

“Beautiful. Maybe you could slow it down by about seventy-five per cent.”

She lets go again.

“That was better. Even slower if you can.”

“I’m good. I’m talented.”

She missed all or part of several classes so the ebb and flow between doubt and skill has been more pronounced than with most students. Twice she has said she doesn’t like it when the water is rough. I told her “not liking” it is not going to change anything. That instead she might want to pay close attention and see if it’s as bad as she thinks it is. We are in a pool with well-mannered adults. Ain’t getting much calmer than this.

“I’m going to get this,” she says and seems to believe it.

“I bet you are. Maybe someday you’ll be a spotter.”

As if in fulfillment of her prediction, a few minutes later she bobs blissfully across the deep end. I suspect that tomorrow, or even later this evening, she will doubt this can be trusted, that she was safe and in control in the deep. It will take more time in the water for the belief to fully take hold but I wonder if she will ever get back in the water. This is the last class. Most people continue onward but many don’t, which is foolish. She could go either way.

The next day she emails me, asking if I meant it about being a spotter. That it would be such an honor.


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