Back then I went swimming every day; it was what kept me going. In the locker room, I avoided eye contact with the other boys. Felt the pleasant smell of chlorine as I approached the pool.
A rush of cold. Butterfly, then front crawl. Alternating strokes, legs kicking, fast-moving blue tiles. Gliding. The air erupting from my lungs in muffled rage, like secret oblivion. “Look,” kids often whispered in school as I walked past. “The faggot.”
Afterward I floated on my back; gazed up at the bright lights. The water eased my mind, you see. It listened. The water was my friend.