Coin Toss

Teen announcer calls out, Final swim event. Coin toss, he says. All children who are seven or older please go to the shallow end of the pool.

The kiddie pool spills nakedness.  Kids who are not yet seven fall over three-year-olds.  Childhood shakes off itself.  The big pool fills with sharp shooters.  Wall Street.  We are far behind, not sure what a coin toss really is.  Stand on the margins.  Main Street.

Announcer says, participants, please sit on the edge of the pool, legs over the side, no false starts, no accidentally falling in, no using swim caps as baggies.  Or else.  You’re out.  

We are game.  At the bottom of the pool a treasure chest glitters silver and copper.

Don’t go in yet, I tell my son S. 

Sit down S., a lifeguard who knows him calls.

Now?  Should I jump in now?  My four-year-old son calls back to her.

Not yet, wait for the horn to sound, I tell him.

Guards, get in the pool, the announcer says, every lane needs a guard, someone on deck.  Kids, I want you to swim away from the other kids, no pushing anyone down.

A blare and burst of koi.  Tan, fair, brown kid fish go over the falls.  A simultaneous slingshot release twists into the shallow end of the water.

I yell to the guard.  Is he holding that girl down in the pool?  Guard, can you get him off of her?  She’s been down there a while. 

My tender son is focused on one thing I think he knows nothing about.  A talk we have yet to have. 

He knows enough.  That a penny lays under his foot.

They’re okay, guard says.  Kids are good.  The guard’s eyes never leave the lane.

Five minutes of life or death palm sweat on deck for what?  For clinking piles of change? 

No.  A penny.  Six dives become seven.  I count eight.

One happy man child payday penny later, my son’s hand held high, he says,  Is it over? 

Yes, I say. Let’s get out.

Here, Mom, my son says, giving me his coin.  This is for you.

I open my hand to the flash of a Lincoln.  My son and I, we are still Main Street. (c) M K Smyth 2012

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