Pool of Placidity
Sometimes I got angry. It wasn’t pretty.
When others got angry, some bad words were said, some doors were slammed and some plates were broken. Nothing more. Yes, when others got angry, only small things got destroyed. That’s why others didn’t need to go into The Pool.
I was told my father was no human. That’s because my mom didn’t like ordinary things, they said. Seems I was getting too ordinary for her because she rarely gave me the time of day. At first, it made me angry. Not anymore. Now I got angry when she did.
My house was big and beautiful. I had everything I ever wanted and more. My room was spacious and shiny, my bed soft and bouncy, and my closets full of the finest clothes. I had a wide palette of everything I set my eyes on: from shoes to tiaras, from food to hobbies. I wasn’t an official princess, but I was a princess. My mom was the perfect queen in my world: rich and powerful, but cold and distant. And I was anything but cold.
Despite having it all, I still got angry. Even over minor things. I got so angry it completely overtook me, spreading through my body like a disease and poisoning my soul. I didn’t know what happened next. My mind went blank and when I woke up, something was ruined. Something important. I never knew what or why or when, all I knew was that it happened and that it was my fault.
My mom called it ‘my red side’. My eyes turned red and everything around me did too. She said my dad had it as well and that it shattered him. His red side made him red I didn’t want to end up that way. I didn’t want others to end up that way.
“I want you safe,” mom told me a long time ago. “The only way for you to be so is by protecting you from yourself. I built you something. You have a shelter now, a place you can take your anger to. The place you can drown it in. Go meet The Pool.”
It was love at first sight. The tension washed away as soon as my body got immersed in cold water. My soul cleansed. I felt the liquid shift around me, ripples running down the pool. In this place, I could be serene. In this place, I discovered placidity.
Years passed. Every time I felt like bursting into red, I closed my eyes and went to The Pool. Every time, it worked. Sometimes I’d swim in it, sometimes I’d lay on my back and listen to the hypnotic voices of the waves, singing to me under their breath.
And sometimes, only sometimes, I’d submerge my head underwater. It’s where the real treasure laid, where all my rage was quenched, all my troubles fleeting. I found peace.
It was only recently I found something else. I heard it before I saw or felt it, it sneaked up to me. It was so loud it pulsated through the walls but despite the intensity, I knew it was only in my mind. Not an illusion, not imaginary, but something only I was meant to hear.
“My skin was dust
My blood was rust
Long before I was dead
My soul is sole
My soul is whole
Still bright and burning red”
Song with a rhythm of a heartbeat. My heartbeat.
I was sitting at the very bottom of the pool, training my underwater breathing. I practiced it regularly and could stay beneath the surface for five whole minutes, but the unexpected encounter forced air out of my lungs. My eyes opened wide.
I saw white with tones of blue, then red. The red orb was flowing around me like a shark, like an eternal bubble escaping my throat. It was the color of blood and I was blood in the water. The last bubble ran away and dived out, gasping for air. My peace broke along with the surface, my body floating and my heart sinking. I got out and ran to safety, droplets falling as I went.
My mother disliked my change of heart. I tried to explain what I saw, explain I was in danger, but she wouldn’t listen. Maids went to check on it and found nothing: no red balls or water spirits, just a normal pool filled with normal water.
“I don’t understand why you’d do this,” she said. “You love that pool.”
“I loved it, yes,” I said. “But now it doesn’t calm me. In fact, it makes me uneasy.”
“I built that pool to keep you afloat,” she said. “It helped you all those years. You need it.”
“I need a new solution,” I said, trying my best to keep my composure.
“Actually, I think you need it right now,” she said and clapped her hands. I knew what that meant.
“Mom, no,” I said, feeling my insides warming up. It was happening and it made her right. Two bulky men lifted me and carried me out of the room. “Mom, please!”
She turned her back to me. “I can’t go back there! It’ll find me! You can’t do this!”
But she could and she did. The water splashed when they threw me in. I heard the lock click as I was falling under the surface. It didn’t hold me. Tears joined my wild heart and I knew what my heart could summon.
Despite the panic, The Pool calmed me as always. At this point, one drop of its water could heal my suffering. Mom was right, I needed that pool. Without it, I was a fish out of water, I was burning in the fire of rage. I was laying on my back, breathing heavily. Tension dissolved, leaving me like the toxin it was.
Stripped off all my emotions and pushed into placidity, I almost forgot why I ever wanted to abandon this place. Then I remembered.
The song was the same, and it got louder by the minute, following my heart. I flipped from my back but didn’t get out. Locked in here, I was bound to face my fears one way or another. I was determined to pick my way.
“Who are you?” I asked into the crimson. The sphere was solid and shiny, beaming like villains’ eyes in old cartoons. Like my eyes. I stared back. “I asked you something. You can’t barge into my pool like this. It’s mine!”
I felt the rage return but this time it was called for. The source of my power. When I got angry, something got ruined. I was counting on it. “Answer me or you won’t get another chance.”
I didn’t move but the red did. It slowly wallowed towards me, fearless. I had to change that.
“I’ll count to three,” I said, my fists trembling, my eyes sharp.
“One.” It stopped for a moment but continued.
“Two.” It was right in front of me, almost touching my shivering skin.
“Three.” It touched me and the water became clearer.
I could finally see my own reflection. I knew what I was always intended to. Closing my eyes, I felt our heartbeats syncing. My anger vanished in a blink of an eye.
He didn’t need to answer, I knew. Our souls – our red sides – recognized each other.
After that, I rarely left The Pool. Mom thought she’d taught me a lesson but I would soon be teaching her one. Dad and I had to make up for the time lost. We swam and dived together, our souls sharing secrets and telling stories. We didn’t need to say a word. We only sang one song.
“Our skin was slick
Our blood was thick
Long before we were tied
Our souls are done
Our souls are one
Passed to the bright red side”