This is the 24th chapter of What Would Water Do, a novel. To begin at the start, click here.
Mae meets Drew at the front door and pulls her down the hall to the living room where the painting of two Fridas presides over the coffee table, where careful piles of the final draft are stacked.
“I’m finished,” says Mae as she collects the sections into one pile, and Drew is once again swallowed up by the beauty of that smile that makes her want to keep doing whatever it is she’s doing if it will keep the smile alive. Mae’s pink lips part: “What should I say? What words can I use to express myself? It’s just so… so…”
Drew hangs, as if by a cord wrapped around her neck.
Mae sinks her teeth into her lower lip and raises her dewy lashes to meet Drew’s hungry eyes. “It is perfect. Absolutely perfect. I knew you could do it.”
“Really?” Deep inside Drew, something flutters and clenches, flutters again. ”You really think so? Because I’m willing to fix anything that isn’t right. I want it to be right.”
“I just feel so proud of you. You’ve given birth to two geniuses. One will win at least one Oscar for sure and the other will probably end up at the top of the bestsellers list.” Mae speaks in italics when she takes Drew’s hands: “I wouldn’t change a thing. I knew I was right. The first time I saw you, I knew you were the one for me. We’re the same. I knew you’d understand.”
And suddenly all angles are reversed and the 180 degree rule is broken: walls fade away, the roof rockets away and Drew’s universe expands like a balloon swelling with liquid. There is nothing to do but shriek and wail and gasp and laugh and hold each other. Happiness pierces Drew’s heart–the membrane ruptures, her eye snap open, pupils dilate into interrupted ellipses–subatomic particles are torn apart and tossed into the air like confetti, ah draws out for a heartbeat longer into aha and into a mantra, hahahahh, that thrusts out of the lungs and up to the stars and they are standing in the darkness at the edge of the pool, holding hands. It’s autumn now but always warm in Los Angeles. The air is as warm as breath and the full moon floats over the glittering horizon like a pregnant woman treading water.
“We’re alone,” she says.
“Yes. I’m the only one who can see you right now.”
“And I’m alone, seeing you.”
Their clothes lie in heaps where they fall. They dip in their feet to test the tepid pool, turn to look at one other.
“It’s dark but I can see you clearly.”
“You’re even more beautiful at night.”
“I’m only as beautiful as you want me to be.”
“You’re more than just beautiful. It’s like seeing the truth.”
“You see the best. You make it true. You take what’s inside my head and make it true.”
“Being naked is dreadful and marvelous.”
Drew hesitates. “I’m not a strong swimmer.”
“You can hold my hand.”
“Promise you won’t disappear.”
“No. I’m appearing. Thanks to you.”
The black velvet water swallows them like voluptuous secrets and it’s like falling out of nothing and into the light. They push through the water toward the glittering vista, scattering little sparks, reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose themselves or find themselves and pause halfway across the pool to stretch their arms and legs out under the wide sky and float like stars.