Thursday, December 17, 2009

Swimming with the Fates

You may not be aware of this, but the three Fates spend their Tuesday mornings here in my town.  They like to swim at the pool.

I don't know what names they go under here - probably not Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos like the did in ancient Greece.  At least not on Tuesdays when they come to swim laps at the same time I do.  I suspect though they'd start and answer without thinking if I called them Nona, Decima, and Morta as they're called in Rome.

But I don't like to pester them to find out for sure. 

I know enough to see they are here incognito, as it were.  Getting away from it all, at least for the morning.  Why they do not holiday in their youthful forms, I do not know.  Maybe they find these old lady bodies more comfortable after all the years of breaking them in?


So, as three old ladies, in comfortable bodies, they paddle back and forth, their three voices interweaving, broken up by sudden chuckles, sudden cackles, up and down in the shallow water.

The oldest, who would be Morta under the Tuscan sun, likes to finish up with a few laps in the deep water lanes.  Once, she turned her eyes on me as we passed each other, both turning our faces out of the water at the same time.  "Good morning," she said in tones of delighted welcome, as if in recognition.  The wideness and darkness of her eyes  were like the embracing eyes of a manatee.   Not at all, pace Milton, the eyes of "the blind Fury with th'abhorred shears [who] slits the thin spun life."

In the pool on Tuesday mornings the oldest and largest of the three cuts only through the water.  Largely benign. 

The other day I heard the two younger Fates talking in the dressing room.  They've laid claim to the far back corner and have no use for curtained stalls or false modesty.  They slap their towels against their backs, wring their suits out onto the floor.  Mostly it was the younger one, Nona, who did the talking.

"Made that pie  yesterday -- turned out good.  Peanut butter and chocolate with Splenda."

"Really?" says Decima, standing naked, bending down to run her wrinkled hands up and down her skinny legs.

"Yes,  I did.  So slick and quick.  You make it right in a 9 x 13 - jello pudding folded in with CoolWhip and then a little sugar, too.  Just in case the Splenda doesn't do it. "

"Boy,  I guess I need to shave my legs," says Decima.

Nona, not to be outdone, says, "Yeah, I've got Wells National Forest on my legs."

They both cackle at this.

"Someone left their suit," says Morta, coming out from the shower, water in rivulets from her footprints.

It's mine.  But I don't want to draw attention to myself.

"Whoever it is isn't too far gone.  It's still dripping," says reasonable Decima.

Nona, who intimately knows the shortness of life,  and thus has her priorities straight, is back on the topic of cake.  "So easy and my! it was good.  You can ask her, can't she?" Over my shoulder in the mirror I see her nodding toward Morta.

Morta nods, peaceably, "I had two pieces."

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