My brown eyes burst open midway through the first morning of the new year, clutching the pink bedsheet in front of my chest and staring up at the ceiling. After taking a deep breath, I threw back the sheet and sat up suddenly. I twisted myself around and touched my bare feet to the carpeted floor, padding across the bedroom to the window. Pushing my hands between the sheer blue curtains, I yanked open the blinds. There was only a tiny gathering of fluffy white clouds resting on the horizon, on a background of bright blue sky. I murmured a morning prayer then strolled out down the hallway towards the back room. The new year fitted on me like clothes the wrong size, beautiful but not right. I passed through the morning with housework. Like clockwork at the time arranged, Uncle Sandy and Aunty Mithali arrived with their three kids, who raced down the hallway. I greeted them with warm hugs, then slipped away. Shutting my door, I had a brief moment to get changed. I heard the joy and warmth from the others, so went to join them. I opened the pool gate, wearing blue-and-white-checked swimmers. It seemed remarkably skimpy, and inappropriate, in comparison to Uncle Sandy’s wetsuit, but it’d do, for the short amount of time that I would be pretending to scuba-dive in our backyard pool, before he packed his gear away and his younger children were allowed in to swim. Mum followed me onto the pool deck. She was still wearing her nice clothes, her white trousers and a royal blue blouse, which she wore for having Uncle Sandy and Aunty Mithali’s family over, for a barbecue and a swim.
“Are you going to have a go?” I enquired.
“Maybe later,” Mum answered.
Uncle Sandy stepped onto our wedding cake steps inside the pool, moving his feet ever so carefully given that he wore flippers. He was the expert at this, after all, so I trusted in his judgment, convicting myself to mirror him. Uncle Sandy showed me the hand signals. All was aimed at preparing me for the heaviness of the equipment. I offered a smile to Mum, then finally put my head under the water. There really wasn’t that much to see on the bottom of the pool. At least it made me feel a little cleaner. At the end of my turn, I thanked Uncle Sandy. It would not rain today, and maybe things would be OK. After sliding open the screen door, I walked in through the loungeroom with a beach towel bunched around me. In my bedroom, I made sure the door was closed, then peeled off the wet material.
Abbey Sim is a candidate for Honours in Communications at the University of Technology Sydney. She lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Having started Huldah Media in 2021, Abbey desires to explore themes of hope, love and longing through her storytelling. She is the author of 'Shadow' and 'From the Wild'.