Early Morning Swim Practice

by Belinda Furby

At 5am, the darkness is so thick I’m tempted to turn on the windshield wipers to see if the black can be scraped off the glass. It's finally turned cold and we have set the heater and both seat warmers as high as they will go. Inside, the truck is like a womb, protecting us from the outside world: from the cold, from the yards Ellen is about to swim, and from my impending day of being a responsible mother, wife, and employee. Ellen is curled in a ball on the seat next to me, trying to get just a few more minutes of sleep as we drive, facing the window with her sweatshirt hood pulled over her head; I can see her face in the reflection, though. So strange - it's like looking at me 25 years ago - caught in that weird in between time of being two people at once, woman and girl, each fighting it out to see who will land on top. It makes me sad to see the girl in her letting go, giving up, but I rather like this new woman who visits me now and then; I think we'll be good friends.


Belinda Furby is the author of Louisiana January. Ellen is 15 and has been swimming competitively since she was six.