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The small swimming pool sits quiescent in the sunlight. Occasional clouds wander overhead. Light breezes attempt to wave away the heat. Shadows waver and darken the water while the accumulated detritus of a week away from home drifts across the surface.

Laden with a long-handled skimmer, I set to work. First, with each glide of the blue net, I lift several leaves, pine needles and bugs floating on the surface of the amazingly still clear water. My thoughts skim the surface of my brain, too. I wonder why I lost my temper last night. I hate the word should, but I should have kept my cool. A friend interrupted my attempt to relate travel frustrations with shoulds. I wish I had tossed away the interruption like I toss the trash from the top of the pool water, like she tossed away my vexation and dismissed our traffic ordeal. Instead, I fired back an impulsive rude response.

I toss the sodden leaves aside.

The large floating litter is easy to skim and lift away, but ripples from the effort create a current which reveals a middle layer of more sodden, suspended vegetation and washes out hidden leaves, pine needles, bugs and twigs from under the pool’s air-pillowed ring. My focus widens and shifts deeper.

I wonder about the bugs. I wonder if they hit the placid surface as birds fly into windows, or were drawn to the liquid like dogs to antifreeze, or were lured by the sparkles of reflected light like moths to flames, like my thoughts to the past, to shoulds and failures. Should I apologize for my outburst? Will my words already be forgotten, forgiven? I hope my words died quickly like some of the bugs in the pool. For me, my mistakes fade slowly. I wonder how many bugs died slowly, hitting the water, wet wings waving uselessly, instantly becoming too heavy to fly, floating for a while.

I dip them out and toss the dripping carcasses aside.

As my efforts clear the surface and middle depths, my eyes dive to the bottom of the pool where totally saturated sediment lies in scattered, dark globs undisturbed by the skimmer, the gentle currents I created above not strong enough to stir the deepest water. I lower the finely woven mesh and slide the edge along the blue and white checkered floor of the pool nudging the closest clump. I expect a cloud of disturbed mud, but instead small, distinct particles separate and float up a couple of inches. I catch only a few as I slowly raise the skimmer to the surface. There isn’t much I recognize: a piece of leaf, a broken pine needle, a bug body part, maybe a twig, but mostly I only see seed–sized brown and black specks of unidentifiable scraps that once were part of something much larger. I’m surprised to discover I don’t care what. Whatever it was, it’s obviously now too small to recognize. Why speculate?

I realize that, unlike the residue in my skimmer, my angry outburst was not ever part of anything larger, just the accumulated detritus of a week away from home. I feel better tossing it all aside and seeing through water now relieved of underlying pollution.

My eyes lazily rise, searching each depth for lingering rubbish. The surface of the aqua water shimmers with reflected sun and sky, darkens with passing clouds, then moves once more into the light. How deeply satisfying to skim a pool, remove the collected fragments of debris and watch the surface, middle and bottom clear.

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