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PHANTOMS vs
FIRE



PRESENTS



SWIM (DEEPER)




   A metallic orange sky hovered over the world on a warm summer day as Tyler and Cecilia's car left California to enter Nevada. The couple had decided to start a journey towards a life to be lived rather than survived. It was time to start breathing.








   Within hours of arriving at the Nordique Motel, Cecilia and Tyler found themselves mesmerized by its pool. A long-neglected blue, white, and orange neon sign flickered its lights into the night, printing a colorful pattern on the insect-covered water.
The couple agreed it was time to go for a swim.






   That night they saw their own lives moving apart, by leaps and bounds, until the moment they met and two lives became one. The neon-colored water covered their bodies like a viscous paint, and they saw in each other a tumultuous but sincere future. A future chosen only by the desire of being together.

   The Nordique Motel was left behind and, 12 hours later, Roswell emerged from behind the heat waves that distorted the air in the US 285. The Beach House would be their next home for the night. They were given the room 102. Exhausted, Cecilia and Tyler collapsed into a deep sleep from which they would remember a mash of oddly similar nightmares and dreams, warnings coming from another reality in which dark-blue giants arrived on Earth to conquer it.






   The dream that Cecilia and Tyler had shared did not end with Earth’s impending invasion though. Their dream had a narrator who told them a story about telepathy, “it was on a sunny afternoon, dipped in the rustle of wet leaves and the electric language of hummingbirds, that her voice rolled and splashed inside my head for the first time. The world looked soaked in pumpkin jam. Orange light and blue twilight lined all visible surfaces when the sun decided to dissolve the storm. Storm that, according to the weather woman, would last three whole days.”






   “When you hear thoughts, hissing and churning are a good part of what you hear. On the first day, I thought they were lightnings traveling softly in the air. But no, telepathy is always like that, an intermediate point in the station selector.”



  “On Christmas Eve, my family received two visits. Santa came down the stairs, and an obese man, completely naked, scratched the front door and tried to speak. A tube hung from his mouth. Santa and the obese man spoke at the same time. From the staircase came a ‘ho, ho, ho’ that lost its dramatic effect before the last ‘ho’. From the door came a request for help in vowels. The naked man pushed the tube in his mouth to the side with his tongue and tried to speak.”







   The disjointed narratives of his dreams made Tyler lose his sleep and wander the streets of Roswell. None of that made any sense, just as the events of his life didn’t either. He was not sure about what he wanted to do, but he was sure that he would not follow in his father's footsteps, coming home every night with a migraine and shaking hands. Modern life also scared him. Adding “friends” is like collecting cards. And as fear surrounds you and the will to fight leaves you, you get distracted by comparisons, "who has the worse life?", "Of my college classmates, only two have done well at all." Tyler and Cecilia wanted to run away from all that.





  

 Those thoughts evaporated from Tyler's mind as he heard a faint bleating coming from the Pecan Orchad. Like the hungry lament of a goat with laryngitis wrapped in a human snoring, that sound made Tyler freeze and his eyes widened when a horned silhouette seemed to peek out from behind a tree. It was too late to turn around when Tyler finally realized that footsteps approached from behind him. He gave a muffled cry and jumped forward as he felt something touch his right hand.
   “It’s me,” Cecilia said. “Let’s get out of here”.






 On their way back to the hotel they talked about that bleating.

   “Did you hear it too?” he asked. She nodded.
   Their conversation about a goat man did not last long. They both agreed that life was much more frightening.







   They sat on the bed and turned on the TV. The Beach House was an old hotel unhurried to modernize. A time machine stranded in past decades.
   Cecilia found a small stack of VHS tapes inside one of the wardrobe drawers and chose a movie called "She Walks On Water." It is a documentary about an actress who, after an alleged abduction, begins to heal people in northern Iceland. It is hard to take most of the interviewees seriously, but the atmosphere created by the aged footage, the constant sound of the wind in the microphones and the haunting soundtrack is truly mesmerizing.







The film ends with the actress supposedly talking to the ghost of a failed Australian singer who fell off a cliff while trying to take an audacious photo of himself. Nigel, the ghost, mentions that he does not feel sad for having died, and that he prefers to live in limbo, where he can dance and sing without being ridiculed, as well as being able to spy on and scare the tourists that visit the region. “Sing with me,” he says to the former actress. She smiles and appears to levitate a few inches off the floor when the film abruptly ends.







Back in room 102, they talked about a different future, about a weekend at Walt Disney World, about Cecilia dressing up as a princess and not giving a damn. About Tyler working for himself and buying a Boston Terrier. About a house on top of a hill, surrounded by pine trees. They talked about the pleasant smell they felt coming from each other's hair. About how willing they were to swim in this invisible sea.






Nearly four days later, after flat tires, arguments about who had misread the maps, and creepy gas station toilets, they arrived in Txlxm, Xexxcx.

“I owe immense gratitude to you,” Tyler told her, “because your smile always seems to replace my flashes of paranoia with  moments of child like joy.”

With a Mayan temple behind them and the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea in front of them, Cecilia and Tyler plunged into that water. That dive served as a baptism, the rebirth of their will to move on leaving bad memories, bad happenings and bad people behind.