I used to imagine every time I went swimming that I was a mermaid. A confetti of pool noodles, inflatable lounge chairs, and floating toys would be stacked in a corner to be my own personal siren grotto. Sun bleached plastic rings worn anxiously around my wrists and ankles until they floated away. Pinks like stale frosting, yellows like the goldenrod pollen that coated my grandparents car , blues and greens of the inky night sky reflected in the pool during our clandestine midnight swims. They were like a sunset above an amusement park, disappointing but full of possibility. I imagined them as seashells, stalagmites and trinkets that I had won. My friends would play around me and ignore my long narratives of pirate escapades and backstory, perfecting the dance of plunging our tiny bodies under the water and flipping our feet at the last moment so that we made the biggest splash, like all good mermaids did. We imagined grown bodies, breasts that required tail-matching seashells just so we could outdo the other. I wanted shimmering, clear scales that reflected the coral and algae because all the other colors were taken. Underwater things were graceful. You could twist around, moving your arms in figure eights until the water burned your nose and the world outside the chlorine was clouded and stinging. I had forgotten about this as the carotene covered my frizzled hair again and I learned to stop opening my eyes underneath the water because the pain wasn’t worth the results. Now I swim above the water, ripping through it with my arms until I am warm and gasping. I notice the muscle fibers stretching and seizing, how my joints keep my legs from a flourishing fin. I still go back to that cave like a plunderer raiding an unremembered home, when all your friends have since drown.