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  • Santiago Chamorro Mucciolo

2 in./5.8 cm

I’ve always found water to be a strangely beautiful paradox. It is the oldest source of sustenance on Earth, arriving from asteroids from the far reaches of space, fertilizing this planet with a single cell, then two, then four, and eventually a billion trillion, from which eight point seven million species lived and died. Every single being remains chained to water, addicted to water, composed by water, lives by water, and dies by water. There are about fourteen gallons of water in every human, and there are three hundred and fifty two quintillion gallons filling the Earth’s oceans, but it takes only two inches, five point eight centimeters, to kill you.

I was taught to respect water, respect the ocean, to genuflect in the beaches, in a quick prayer for safety as I was washed and swept by the green and blue seas which surround my country, trapping it. This respect eventually revealed itself to be fear, irrational, Thalassophobia, of what was underneath, of what I couldn't see, couldn't understand. Despite this, there were times when the water’s seduction somehow always seems to surpass my most primal fears.

It had been a day in which the temperature was cruel, above eighty seven degrees, and the water resting at a pool seemed enticingly inviting. I was at the shallow end of it, floating, eyes closed, took a deep breath, slowly let it out, and sunk into the water. My head slowly came to a rest in the blue checkered floor, the tip of my nose still above the surface, although my nostrils are submerged my upper lip curls stopping any water from entering it, like a dam. I allow myself to open my eyes, and as I feel the sting of the pool’s chlorine, I see bubbles of air, dancing as they climb to the surface, and popping, like a balloon that went too high into the stratosphere. The water covers my eyes in a membrane, I stop moving, heartbeat engulfing my body, my temperature and the water’s seemingly reach homeostasis, and I almost feel that my skin extends itself into the liquid becoming one with it. All the stress seems to ease from my muscles and my head, melting away, condensating into the surrounding wetness. All the oxygen leaves my body, and I think of all those threats water imposed of me, and how unreal and irrational they seemed. I was being cradled and caressed by the water; what harm could there be?

At last I slowly tilt my head to breath again and I remember how my younger brother’s friend had died while her pool was being cleaned, hair caught in the filter, drowning in what was essentially a puddle. Two inches. Five point eight centimeters. The memory prods my heart which flinches under the dull pain of guilt, as if gently punishing this naive reverie. I sink again to enjoy the water, but this time I rise for air a little bit more quickly.

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