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From here in this medium of life, this liquid of love, I see him even more clearly. Waving at me. Oh, he is an impatient man. He's signalling for me to undress. "Down to your skivvies," he says to the wind. I am a woman hypnotized. Entranced. One elbow wrapped around the ladder like it's a pole on a burlesque stage, I take my cargo shorts off underwater, swirl them around impulsively and toss them onto the dock. They land with a thump and I am briefly aware that my keys, my phone, my prescription refill, my bank-card and a pack of Clorets are in the pocket. I pull my tank top off slowly. And my socks. The cool water against my Jockeys For Her is invigorating. I look down and notice that I'm wearing an old maternity bra. It means nothing to me. I know that Johnny Depp won't care. We have a deeper connection. I must swim to him quickly. I must become one with the water. Elemental. Pure.
I thrust myself forward into the deep lake. Front crawl, or breast stroke? I smile knowingly, part my arms in front of my body like the petals of a flower blossoming to the sun, and feel complete immersion.
They told me later it was a good thing I had such a sturdy bra on. Gave the Newfie something to clamp his teeth on when he pulled me out onto the shore.
"Swear to God, Lady, you were, like, blue."
"It was freaky."
"Yeah and the weeds that came out of your mouth? Holy crap."
"I've never seen anything sink so fast!"
Someone found my glasses under the dock that afternoon, one arm broken off but otherwise fine. The swimmers' itch only lasted a few days. The kids refused to go back to the lake with me for the rest of the summer. Johnny Depp must have returned to the south of France, and I know Tibetan Mastiffs get mistaken for Newfies all the time. In the meantime, I'm taking swimming lessons at the pool and my instructor is this tall, blond, blue-eyed Poseidon who seems to have a thing for older women...
Katherine Fawcett lives in Pemberton, writes the occasional feature for Pique and has been following Johnny Depp's career avidly since 21 Jump Street.
Third Place #1
By Babar Javed
In my 60 years at the General Store I've never seen anything like this. Our green and golden valley's become orange and pink. Hundreds of workers in safety vests. Don't know why they call them that - in my day if a guy dressed like that, he'd get beaten up. Red and white tape across the forest, like a festival barber shop, except not a very good one, the cutting is patchy. Young women smiling, giving you the come on, then calming you down, flashing "Slow" boy, and then "Stop". Ignoring their warnings is a serious crime, called sexual harassment. You gotta behave respectably, the sign says their family works here. Who'd wanna kill someone's mom or pop just to get to the pub first. Still, good to see so many people working. Wonder who's paying?