The Big Splash

02/20/23

Tyler swam the length of the lap pool, somersaulted underwater and kicked off the tiled wall to swim back to the other side. He was the only swimmer in the pool this early morning; he liked it that way. Reaching the end, he grabbed the pool’s rim with one hand and wiped the water from his eyes with the other. A svelte young woman stood over him, blond hair pulled back tight in a ponytail.

“Kelly?” he said squinting up at the figure. “What are you—how did you get in here?” This pool was on the grounds of a member’s-only country club; Tyler was a member in good standing. Kelly was not.

Kelly looked across the pool at Carlos, the well-muscled security guard, standing by the lifeguard’s chair. She shrugged, and one of the straps of her swim-suit slipped off her tanned shoulder; her brightly colored-tote bag hung on her other. “Oh, I have my ways.”

“So,” Tyler began, dreading where this conversation was likely heading, “What’s up?”

“What’s up?” Kelly laughed without a trace of mirth. “Like this will be some casual conversation between two acquaintances?” Kelly shifted her tote bag from her right shoulder to her left. “You owe me explanation. That’s what’s up.”

Tyler pulled himself up out of the pool and leaned into Kelly’s face. “Explanation, for what?” He shook the water from his hair like a dog after a bath.

“For starters,” Kelly said, wiping the droplets of chlorinated water from her face, “for breaking our engagement, for cheating on me.” Kelly straitened her back and her resolve. “And for draining my savings account when you—”

“Hey, now,” Tyler interrupted, “I left some money in there.”

“Yeah, the minimum balance that the bank allows.” She dug around in her tote bag as she spoke. “You’re real thoughtful guy.” Kelly glanced up at Tyler. “What I need is—”

“What you need, and what you want are not the same thing,” Tyler scoffed. “That’s something you never learned.”

From her tote bag, Kelly pulled out her derringer. It was an antiquated, pearl-handled beauty she inherited from her grandmother, years ago, along with a half-empty box of .22 caliber bullets. She pointed the little gun at Tyler. He put his hands up and stepped away from Kelly, toward the pool’s edge.

Kelly continued. “And when we were together, you never learned what I needed.”

Terrified, Tyler scrunched up his face and pleaded, “Okay, okay, what do you need?”

“Now, what I need,” she said as she cocked the gun’s hammer; it’s short muzzle glinting in the summer sun, “is revenge.” Without missing a beat, she pulled the trigger.

There was a loud pop, and Tyler was flung back into the cool turquoise water of the pool. The splash he made sent violent, concentric waves and ripples across the swimming lanes. He floated face up, as if he was relaxing, daydreaming as he watched clouds pass by overhead.

Kelly looked down at him. The blood from his wound blossomed around his body; it reminded her of a great red hibiscus flower. The sort her grandmother cultivated in her flowerbed.

“What I want,” Kelly said, now speaking loudly, not to Tyler but to the security guard striding towards her, “is to get the hell out of here.”

Carlos grinned and jingled the car keys in his hand.

~ fin ~

Hillary Lyon 2022

Hillary Lyon holds a Masters in English Literature, and what do you do with that? She founded and for 20 years acted as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her short stories, drabbles, and poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications. She’s lived in Brazil, Canada, France, and several states in the US; she currently resides in southern Arizona. Hillary also creates illustrations for horror, sci-fi, and pulp fiction sites.