Aurelie and Lisa ran in parallel like the blue lines of a notebook. They had between them a notebook's sense of margin and blank edge, a place, a vertical red double half-rule, where they began and, while she had no sense that they would end, ever or soon, there wasn't a vanishing point where their lines merged, rather the regular march of page upon page of parallel lines gutter to edge.
Still we fill them well enough, she thought, watching as Lisa hauled another wheelbarrow of compost down the woodchip path into the lower garden near the river. My warrior girl, she thought, seeing the samurai sweatband and the muscled flanks. Butterfly was a curious name for a torturous event, arms swinging in full arcs around the rotator cuff, the muscled flanks and hydraulic calves hammering in the dolphin kick.
She redeemed dolphin, Aurelie thought. A creature too often seen as fey, smooth, merely ballistic. The dolphin like Lisa was all (not not all, there were moist spaces, the faintly violet labial serrations like the pinked violet edge of the membrane of a clam) muscle.
We are paired but not mated.
Lisa had been an All-American swimmer, her picture once in the section at the front of Sports Illustrated where they heralded the melting pot of amateurism, the coming generation of simple citizen athletes. It was a page of lies. Or rather mugshots of the innocently duped, believers in the lies of the body, believers in the democracy of federations, councils, associations. So and so of Zeppelin, Illinois set an amateur record in the sixteen thousand something. See him smile. Lisa in her own mugshot looked a little grim, though duly Californian, like the sun-bleached daughter of some celebrity scientist who had cooked her dolphin's genes into a salty broth before injecting them into his perfectly fit wife, finishing it all off with a nubby little ride on the vibrator and a glass of chardonnay to calm her after.
I am bitter for her, she thought. Or perhaps bitter from her.
Perhaps it was only the heat, the thick of July, Lisa's white leotard top stained with perspiration and the potting soil bran of the compost, damp at her belly, the small of her back, the sweet long scapula, the shoehorn curve between her tight breasts. Satin Umbro soccer pants, still the All-American. It is the heat, she thought. A butterfly borne by a burnished silver cocoon.