The Dive

Our grandfather gyrates skinless on the diving board, holds his arms out, jumps in. Water turns pink following the cramping of vulnerable red muscles twitching from chlorine, lumps of tree sap collected near the bot- tom. Grandfather finds the shallow end and wades up the stairs, looks at his grandchildren. A loose white strap of tendon stretched over where his testicles should be. We take turns wrapping his thick, hairy skin over our torsos. Susan is the youngest of us. She is having her turn fitting into grandfather’s skin. She sticks her legs down his legs and furls them up, so they will better fit. She jokes about hemming them above her ankles. Sweat pours down our foreheads. I am the oldest of the grandchildren. I won’t get in the pool—our grandfather’s greasy sweet pink coloration may get in my nose. Susan puts her arms in grandfather’s arms and folds them, says she will hem those at the wrists. On her, the arms and legs look like fleshy accordions. “When may I take off my skin?” I ask. Grandfather crosses his fleshless arms, looks at me with bloodshot blue eyes and grits his exposed incisors together, the teeth left for holding in dentures. “When you’re old enough, you’ll know,” he gums. Susan comes forward, slings the skin over my shoulder, and dives nose-first into the pool.

Garrett Ashley recently graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi. His stories can be found at PANK, Foundling Review, Word Riot, BLIP Magazine, and Juked, among others. His piece, “The History of Character X” (decomP magazinE), was recently chosen for the anthology, The &NOW AWARDS 2: The Best Innovative Writing.