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Pool Rules

Experimental Prose, Rosamunde O' Cummings

There is a swimming pool. It has to be a swimming pool. It cannot be anything other than a swimming pool and you know it. Because November cold is only palpable when your hair is dripping with chlorine. You tried to dry it with the hair dryers that only dry for a few seconds, and so you put on a hat thinking it is going to be fine. It is not fine.

You step outside and you understand November cold. You understand cold full stop.

Just as well cold understands you.

And much like the chlorine that latched itself onto your hair, you and cold are inseparable.

You carry cold around like that one girl you met in summer camp, who you thought seemed cold but really was just friendless and lonely (you just cannot tell the difference).

You tried hard to make that girl not cold anymore, but you learn quickly that if you misdiagnose the cause, there is nothing you can do. So you carry cold around and cold is a lonely misdiagnosed girl you walk side by side with.

You try to heal her but she is not sick. You are though. You are.

You were ill the minute you stepped into the dark after swimming for hours. Wearing a hat that tries to protect chlorine-soaked hair from the November cold. You later learn that you were ill the second you saw your reflection in the artificial cyan of the swimming pool. You did not know that then but now of course. Because it had to be a swimming pool. It could not be anything else.

And so when you dived for the first time that day and tried to hold your breath as long as you could, you nearly drowned that lonely misdiagnosed girl you met in summer camp. Because it is a swimming pool. It had to be. And water reflects.

You are not good at holding your breath, so you and that girl break the water surface to gasp for air in under a minute. You hoped you could do better, longer.

Well, but who knows what that little misdiagnosed girl has for lung capacity? Better not risk it. Better play it safe.

Because it had to be a swimming pool. and cold bites so much more when you’re out of the water. skin is so dry after chlorine water, hair so stiff.

You take the little girl home and wash her hair and this time you dry it well and then you put cream on her hands to prevent it from cracking and take her to bed after giving her cold medicine. Because you don't know much except that you need to protect that girl from swimming pools and that it had to be a swimming pool and that it is never anything else.

It can’t be.

You know November air is cold and you ignore that your nose has been running for days.

The little girl is safe asleep and it had to be a swimming pool.


Rosamunde O' Cummings (she/her) dreamed of being a miniature version of herself, living in a decorated Altoids-mints-box most of her childhood life. Now she is a business major. To balance out these very different life paths, she now writes and finds comfort in all things that feed her inner child; swimming pools, motherhood, dinner tables etc.

You can find her on Tumblr at


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