There is something quite comforting about knowing that this is the end of human existence. It doesn’t matter that we all die; that everything is pointless and that I’ve not achieved anything. I must be special if I’m one of the last people to walk the earth, before our self-inflicted extinction. It’s the same perverse pleasure I took as an anorexic superiorly watching others eat foods full of fat, sugar and carbohydrates. I know we are all doomed. But I have to be safe here, surely, hovering over a loo in the swimming pool toilets. Aquamarine tiles cling to the walls like lichen, stuck on with grotty grouting. There’s a bit of dirt and lots of water and melted tissues strewn across the floor. I spot one bloody plaster. The air stinks of ammonia. No one could die in here. It is disgusting, but it has to be safe.
I shower before getting into the pool, breathing in the smell of chlorine. Accept that it isn’t chlorine. It’s chloramine. Chloramine is formed when chlorine reacts with sweat and body oil and urine. The more piss in a pool, the more it reeks. A clean pool should smell of nothing. I jump in, without dignity, arms and legs akimbo. I push off from the side with my arms stretched out in front and let myself drift, before rising to the surface. The water feels heavier at the top and lighter towards the bottom—like milk growing a creamy, scabby skin. The chloramine reaction is known to produce cyanogen chloride, a chemical weapons agent. I’m in the main pool and little babies and toddlers are in the learner. I can hear their giggling and gurgling as they bumble their way down the plastic duck slide and into this miasmatic solution of very diluted bleach.
Laura Grace Simpkins
Laura Grace Simpkins has a master’s in Film Studies from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s in History of Art from the University of Oxford. She has bipolar disorder, OCD, sensory sensitivity difficulties and more anxieties than she can keep track of. In her writing, Simpkins aims to articulate atypical mental health experience by exposing gaps in psychiatric discourse and suggesting a new linguistic framework centred around the description of colour, shape and pattern.
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