I first saw this woman one night during my freshman year in college while lying on my bed, listening to a conversation going on among some other people in the room and looking at the mattress springs of the bunk above mine. In the morning at her clock radio's first shrieks the larger of my two roommates would give a tremendous groan, stir, and then lower her feet over the side; and I'd be haunted by the sight of those long yellow slabs of feet in a way I never was by the next sight in my day—the slow-blooded body in its Lanz flannel shroud crashing upright to the floor beside me.

On this night, I closed my eyes against the gray unbalanced springs and saw a woman rise to the sunny surface of a swimming pool, rest her forearms on its concrete rim, and smile at me. She was wearing a bathing cap. With her left hand she wiped the mask of water from her face and flicked the clinging drops of water to one side. Then she smiled again, more conversationally, as if referring to the action of her hand across her face and some private joke we shared about it. I smiled back, thinking, "This woman has come to show me that she's out there waiting, and that everything will be all right. Someday I'll have a lover who will smile like that to see me." Utterly convinced and happy, my mind felt free to leave her and the eye was closed; she disappeared.

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