The balcony was solid and large, built to Hank’s specifications years earlier. He looked out over the backyard from his cantilevered vantage point, across the pressure-treated bench and safety railing. Memories sputtered for air as they raced to the bubbling surface of his new perspective. The swimming pool was gone.
He remembered assembling treads and risers on a hand cut wooden frame, lifting completed stairs into place with the help of friends. Anchored between the balcony and a lower deck, the stairway was firmly shoehorned between the other wooden structures. Each step he took toward ground level accompanied a change in elevation that renewed his perspective of the changed yard and the missing pool.
A privet hedge still guarded two sides of the rectangular yard, now green where crystal blue had steamed in white windborne eddies on cool October mornings. Hank paused at the bottom of the stairs and turned to measure the distance from house to rear fence, recalling the countless laps he swam on summer evenings. What an ordeal the pool had been to build, wedged between garage and property lines on a narrow suburban lot. But what a joy, facing skyward on sweltering nights, stars and fireflies drizzling into the illuminated blue-green water under his raft. Moments of bliss. Private. Secluded.
But his beloved swimming pool was gone, sold to strangers, forgotten for a time, and now destroyed. At what expense, he wondered, understanding the need to break the concrete to pieces before filling the gaping hole with soil and seed. Otherwise, an intact shell would rise ship-like from the yard without the weight of water to counter the hyrdrostatic pressure from beneath. Quite an undertaking.
Hank headed onto the new lawn that spanned the distance from ghostly diving board to phantom shallow stairs. He remembered swimming between the two points, suspended in water like a balloon in an Albuquerque sky. The grass was lush beneath his feet, sinking almost ankle deep in softness, disconcerting in its failure to support him fully and yielding to his stride as he approached the middle of the yard.
Hank’s gaze and stomach fell as dark water rose to lap the sides of his shoes. The yard undulated in a dizzying response to his shifting center of gravity. The pool was not gone. A seamless layer of thick sod simply floated on the surface of deep and sinister black water. He dared not move suddenly for fear of being dragged downward, blanketed by living lawn and held beneath the surface by his own weight. Remorse for building the pool and moving away caused him to tremble and then shake violently. Word of a fascinated toddler had reached him in his absence. The churning water beneath the sod chuckled with indifference and rose up to remind him of his sins.