Cement Swimming Pools
The kiddies went—pop!—right out of the water, one by one. Summer afternoon, sun skimming along rolling waves, bobbing little ones shrieking. Round heads left miniature whirlpools as they vanished. Three or four saltwater drops pinged up and then fell, indiscriminate from the other hundreds of thousands of drops that make the sea. Through the Speedo goggles his sister made fun of him for wearing to the beach, Timmy Melboum saw her disappear.
They came from the sand looking like worms poking their heads above dirt, except much bigger. Timmy saw them open their wide, toothless maws, grasp the kids by their feet, and yank. Sand swirled before his goggles and settled and the only legs left were grown-up ones.
Lifeguards dove but came up empty. The parents cried and made the ocean bigger.
Marine authorities set up pickets with strings hanging in between all the way along the coast, with signs that read, Danger! Do not swim. Timmy imagined an age range instead, like height meters at roller coasters on the pier. Must be this tall to ride. Must be this age to swim. Only the children aged nine and younger had disappeared.
Timmy, spared by his tenth birthday just two days before the incident, spent his afternoons in his sister’s room and tried to remember her face. He saw only her upreaching hand as she slipped through the water.
His mother took his goggles away. The neighbors filled their pool with cement.
Taylor Lauren Ross is a writer, editor, and book group facilitator based in Los Angeles. Since earning a BA in English from UCLA, she has published articles in Santa Barbara Magazine and others. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Westwind, TulipTree, Dual Coast, and others. She was a 2014 AWP Writer to Writer mentee and the senior editor of The Riding Light Review. (website, twitter)
W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage. To date, more than fifty of Jack’s short stories and over four-hundred of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California. (website)