Monday, November 01, 2004

Pool Cleaner Day

Pool Cleaner Day!

It's deep autumn and you don't have a boyfriend anymore. He broke up with you after the Halloween bonfire, saying, "Let's be honest with each other. Before Christmastime, ya know? I mean, what if we bought each other gifts and all."

The deck chair is wet through your jeans. The sky is steel gray. It's cold enough out that it hurts to cry, but you came out here to the pool turned brown with a layer of leaves so you could be alone and let it all out. You didn't count on your Dad finally getting around to summoning the pool guy to gather up the leaves and seal up for the winter.

"Why your Daddy bring me out so late?" he asks you from the foot of your chair. Your face was in between your bents knees and you didn't see him coming. His name's Clarke and he's got a dark gray-white pallor, like his whole body is covered in five o'clock shadow.

"He couldn't afford it until now," you say. You sniffle. You don't hide from Clarke that you've been crying. He got to interrupt you several times last summer, when you would be straddling and kissing your boyfriend in that deckchair, the two of you dripping in your bathing suits. Now he can suffer the repercussions. The tears when the boy's all gone.

"I better get started before I end up shoveling snow outta there," Clarke says. "You go turn on the pump."

You furrow your brow. "That's your job, right Clarke?"

He didn't hear you. "I'll get my net outta the van."

Clarke leaves, and you shrug and do as he said, turning on the pump before returning to your chair by the pool. Clarke comes back and tosses three metal rods at you, one with a net on the end. "Put that together for me?" he says. Then he goes to the rolled up pool cover and starts untying the rope holding it tight.

You get his far-reaching net into one piece and hand it to him. Then you stand by his side as he fishes bunches of leaves from the water. When he steps along the edge, you follow.

"My daughter's two years older than you," he says from silence. "Can I ask you something?"

You nod, but his eyes are on the pool. He takes your silence as assent.

"Why are you all so miserable?"

You laugh in spite of yourself. "It's not our fault," you say.

"The world's so bad to the teenage girls?" Clarke says.

"Maybe the teenage girls were just hoping for something better," you say.

Clarke hands you the net. "Grab those leaves into that pile by the side over there. I'm gonna use your bathroom."

Clarke goes into your house and leaves you floating the net just under the water's chilly surface, grabbing up leaves like schools of fish. You like what you said to Clarke. None of this is your fault. You've just been let down again.

Happy Pool Cleaner Day!