Kathy Mak, "墨  / mò /"

It wasn’t that I hated swimming. It was fear.

Fear was losing my favourite yellow heart-shaped hairclip in the depths of water. Imprinting only a memory of the dirty beige tiled deck. Mom took me by the hand as the clammy gust of air flushed over my wet body. Her agitated hands peeling off a second skin. I crouched in anticipation as a tremor ran down my naked back. Waiting for a full bladder to slowly trickle out.

Fear was drowning. Fear was dying. Fear was inhaling the consequences of chlorine up my nose. A pungent sting you can never forget. Any association of swimming with the senses then becomes repulsion. Becomes fear.

As I pursued lifeguarding, fear churned, fear distorted. Fear became worry. Fear became uncertainty. Fear was standing beneath the scrutiny of other lifeguards. Dismissive eyes flitting up and down the length of my body. Existing in otherness under their crossed arms, tilted heads.

An Asian body in a crowd of white.



As it appears in The Malahat Review's fall 2020 issue #212