It’s been so long since the last time she was grounded that Petra has almost forgotten the trick of staying upright. The long weary hours held against the treadmill by elastic have left her dense enough, but it never switches off, not nights nor weekends. Everything aches.
She spends most of her waking hours in the apartment pool, just floating in a way that is almost but not entirely unlike being out there; anyway her back aches less. The pool is unheated, but she’s got a wetsuit that keeps her warm enough and gives her more support when she moves. Her hair crisps from the chlorine.
She’s sitting on the bottom, weightless with yearning, when a pair of ducks fly over the fence and land on the water above her. She stays still as long as she can, lets the slight current tug her out from under them down toward the filter. When she can’t hold her breath anymore, she cracks the eggshell of the surface with her head, forces herself to breathe slowly and silently.
The ducks eye her warily.