rosen pix

What Does Mom Know?
by Diana Rosen

My dad nearly drowned as a boy. Fear kept him from learning how to swim but he knew his kids should, so my parents both insisted that my sister and I have lessons at the local YMCA. I loved it, thought I was a mermaid.

On summer Sundays, our family went to the outdoor pool at the community center. My dad would walk around the shallow end, straw hat on his head, wearing trunks and an open shirt revealing a snow-white chest of a man who’d worked indoors all his life.

Mom preferred to read her westerns on a chaise longue. She said she could swim, she just didn’t want to.

“I bet you can’t swim, you’re probably just like Daddy, afraid of the water.”

“I’m an excellent swimmer. I don’t want to get my hair wet.”

I harrumphed. “I’ve never seen you swim. Do you really know how?”

“Yes, I do.”

I continued to harangue her until she sat up, took off her sunglasses, swung her legs off the chaise longue, slammed the book on the chair, and walked over to the deep end of the pool. She rose up on her toes, held her arms straight up along her head, sliced silently into the water without so much as a ripple, swam silently until she reached the edge of the swallow end. She stood up, hoisted herself up the steps with the help of the shiny steel railings, walked back to her lounge chair, picked up the towel, dried off, and sat back down.

“Are you happy now?” she asked, picking up her book.

I slunk off to do my dog paddle version of swimming wondering, “What other talents, other secrets do I not yet know about Mom?”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The mermaid of Uniontown, at twelve-years-of-age.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Diana Rosen is a widely published poetry and flash fiction writer with credits in Rattle, Lucidity, convolvulus, and the anthologies Bold Ink, Those Who Can … Teach, and Kiss Me Goodnight, among other print journals, and online on,, and most recently for Silver Birch Press for its Learning to Drive series. By day, she is a journalist and online content provider on food and beverage. She lives in Los Angeles.