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Part Five Chapter 13

In the bedroom you ask Jürgen to carry the cheval glass to the middle of the room; you have him place it opposite the sea-view window. While he’s in the bathroom you set up the Dansette. You then run your hand across the buttoned-back silk damask of the boudoir chair, sit down on it and take off your boots. When Jürgen’s done in the bathroom you take your turn, then head for the wardrobe while he waits on the bed. Minutes later, you emerge from behind the screen.

The emerald spandex of your swimsuit gleaming, you step forward, a sleek machine of toned muscle. Your hair, slicked back and pinned into a bun, sports a glittery clasp; under your arm you’re carrying a roll of blue. There’s both candour and calculation in your smile as you unroll your roll of blue—an exercise mat—in front of the mirror.

̶  This is a swimming pool. I’m a synchronized swimmer. My partner (you indicate the glass) is Psyche.

You turn on the record player and drop the needle into the groove. As piano chords sound against a sax hush, you do your poolside deckwork, striking a different pose for each chord struck. At the entrance of drums and bass, you cartwheel into a handstand, diving into the pool. Still don’t know what I was waiting for: In perfect synchronization with Psyche, over the next three and a half minutes you perform a water ballet to the shifting rhythms of David Bowie’s ‘Changes’.

David Bowie, Hunky Dory

David Bowie, Hunky Dory

You cannot scull on your hands, but your legs transpose water-based movements to land with amazing fidelity. Barracuda, aurora, manta ray; flamingo, butterfly, porpoise: Vertical on your hands or horizontal on the floor, you find convincing equivalents to the figures and execute them with flair. Splits and arches, twists and extensions, flow smoothly one into another; front pike and back tuck, bent knee and straight thrust, compose an arresting choreography. Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes: Driving against the walking bass, you turn an eggbeater kick into an aquabob and somersault into a handstand; crossing the bridge of strange fascination, you tuck, pike and straddle into a dynamic V-up. Jürgen on the bed is blown away, as excited by your graceful ease as he is estranged by Psyche’s intimacy: Your duet is perfect. While Bowie plays the saxophone coda, you peel off your bathing suit, stretch out and float in the blue of the pool.

Part Five Chapter 7

The afternoon ended with the two of you dancing to Bowie’s ‘Queen Bitch’—She’s so swishy in her satin and tat, in her frock coat and bipperty-bopperty hat—taking each chorus as a cue to switch from Panama hat to pillbox, pork pie to Basque beret, raided from Valeria’s pirate trunk.

Mara Marietta