But when she turned the corner, she was pulled right back into worry. A pool maintenance truck was driving off. Once again, the creepiness of the swimming dream filled her. She knew the dream was exactly what Paula said it was – a mom dream, and maybe an unconscious nagging to get back into shape, mixed with the memory of her friend’s dog, Jasper. Dreams rarely made sense. And yet.
Though she didn’t understand how, she knew the dream was connected to her recent sense of unease. But unease about what, she couldn’t say. It was like trying to catch an image at the far periphery of vision.
She wanted to see where the pool was. Who owned it. She crossed to where the truck had pulled out, and stood near the shoulder-high laurel bushes that surrounded a backyard. She moved to a spot where the bushes were not so thick, and peeked over the top. On the side of the house was a swimming pool, smooth and blue in the morning light. She paused indecisively, and then pushed aside the branches and stepped through, to take a better look.
“May I help you?”
Miranda jumped. She hadn’t seen anyone and was startled to realize that she wasn’t alone. A woman, perhaps in her late sixties or so, stood before an easel with a paintbrush poised in one hand.
“Oh, good morning,” said Miranda. “Sorry – I didn’t mean to intrude. I just wanted to get a better look at your pool. I saw the maintenance truck drive away. I’m thinking of getting one. A pool, that is.”
“Hmm,” said the woman, for the most part ignoring Miranda’s rambling explanation. She studied the canvas, dabbed at her palette, and made a few strokes. “Well, it’s certainly good exercise.”
Miranda saw that she was painting a grouping of potted flowers. “I used to paint,” she volunteered. “A little.”
“Did you? And why did you stop?”
“I forget. I mean, well, I still do. Sometimes. I plan on starting again.”
“You should. It’s a nice way to connect with the world, isn’t it?” The woman lifted a glass from a small table next to her, took a sip, and set the glass back down.
With a few blinks of surprise, Miranda realized that it was a glass of champagne. How wonderfully eccentric! She looked more closely at the woman. She was strikingly beautiful, with wavy gray hair down to her shoulders, and though she wore a long blue caftan, Miranda saw that her arms were well toned and that she was in good shape. She probably swam every morning. A large table with comfortable chairs around it stood next to the house, as if ready for summer gatherings. The entire pool area was full of flowers, climbing vines, and wicker chairs with colorful pillows.
“How pretty you’ve made everything!”
The woman gave an appreciative smile to Miranda, and then swished the brush around in a jar of water.
Miranda was about to leave, when she heard a tiny yelp. At the woman’s feet lay a small dog, its tail thumping languidly.
Miranda bit her lip, unsure about pushing on. “You know, I think I’ve seen you and your husband in the neighborhood.” Miranda made some vague gestures. “About this tall, wears glasses, I think.”
“My husband and I parted ways years ago,” the woman said, deciding on another color from her palette.
“Oh, gosh. I’m sorry.”
“I’m not,” the woman said, taking a sip of champagne. “It’s much better this way.”
Miranda opened her mouth as if to say something, but then took a step back. “Well, goodbye. Enjoy your morning.”
“Yes, I intend to.” The woman raised her head in goodbye. “I hope you get your pool.”
Miranda stepped back into the street, with two thoughts foremost in her mind. One, that she had just carried out the most pathetic act of sleuthing imaginable. And two, she felt inspired by the older woman.
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