WHIRLPOOL

TATUM ROGERS

Seven.

The first time Levi meets Lull, he’s playing in the creek out back like he always does, soaked to the bone. A spot in the center of the water begins to swirl, whipping up into foam. Lull emerges out of the sediment, soaked to the soul.

Fourteen

Levi and Lull have their first fight during a hot muggy summer. Levi thinks it’s over something silly, the state of garbage in the creeks loamy banks, but Lull is a whirlpool, mad like a hurricane: it’s my home, he keeps saying, it’s my home. Lull is gone for a week, and Levi’s mom comments on how thin he’s getting.

Seventeen

When Levi realizes he is in love with Lull, he’s sitting on the old swing set. The rain is pouring, and when Lull steps out of the tree line he is blue-green and glistening like the ocean. Levi thinks he wants to drown.

Twenty

Lull can’t follow where Levi goes, but Levi goes anyway. He’s a junior in college when he explains what a nixie is to his “Intro to German Mythology” class. That night the creek floods, and Levi’s mom calls to tell him the old swing set got swept away in it.

Twenty-Two

Levi doesn’t regret it when he quits college to move back home; he and Lull talk about futures, they talk about houseboats. Levi stays at the creek until his hands and feet are so wrinkled they’re unrecognizable. He never feels waterlogged.