EVA HAD LOVED the first slap of cold water on her face when she dived into the pool, then the bubbles peeling away from her hands like pearls. A shoal of parrotfish passed on her right, creating a golden wall that reflected the afternoon light. Ahead was a manta ray, its flanks rippling like a silk curtain, while the walrus hovered in the corner of her vision. As she pushed through a forest of kelp, it rasped against her cheeks.
Where she lived, heat stretched into the forties before summer storms and kids were taught to swim before they could walk. Eva, once tossed into the water, never wanted to get out again.
‘It’s all that fat. That’s why you can stay in so long,’ her mother used to say. ‘You’ve an extra layer of insulation.’
‘My little water baby,’ was what her father said, for her tubby body was always rolling and spinning, slick with water.
Eva didn’t care. She imagined peeling starfish from the rocks or tapping a rhythm on crabs’ shells with her nails. Then she plucked out the band holding her plait and unravelled her hair. She exhaled and sank to the pool’s plastic floor, meditating. Her long hair floated about her in a thick, writhing mass.