I finished my second lap and crouched in the shallow end so my chest remained below the surface.
Before I begin a swim I exercise my cumpulsion to keep the pool tidy, and I paddle about collecting the stray leaves that have settled on the water and tossing them out.
I aim for the shrubs by the fence, but they almost always land near or on one of the deck chairs.
I don't mind that. It's not tidy, but I know they won't stick to my face as I plow through the water.
As I crouched I saw something floating, something alive. A bee bobbed upside-down, one leg twitching.
I walked through the water, lifting and lowering my legs like an astronaut, and peered down at the bee - wanting to get a close look, but cautious.
I thought I remembered learning from a nature show that insects breathe through their skin, or exoskeleton, or whatever. Which meant the bee, covered in water, was drowning.
I cupped my hands under the bee in order to toss it up on the pavement. The water splashed and the bee tried to right itself. Then it stung me.
"Fuck!" is what I said.
I droped the bee back in the water and stared at my finger. The stinger was embedded on the inside of the ring finger of my right hand, in the soft tissue opposite the knuckle.
It hurt, but not as much as the bee stings I had as a child. The skin immediately around the stinger was red and the ring of skin around that slowly turned white, creating a bulls-eye.
The moment of anger was already passed, so I cupped my hands again, much more cautiously, even though I knew that the bee's stinger was still in my finger and it couldn't possibly sting again.
I also remembered that once a bee had stung it would soon die. And as I looked at the bee in the water it was no longer twitching, and its body had curled up in typical insect rigor mortis.
But the bee needed some dignity, didn't it? And I didn't want to bump into a bee carcas as I swam anyway.
I splashed the dead thing to the edge and managed to splash it up over the side without having to touch it.
I stared at it for a while. It wasn't moving much, but one wing seemed to flap a little - although it may have been the wind.
I wanted it to be grateful to me, but knew an insect was not capable of gratitude.
I wanted it to be safe and healthy and be able to return to its hive, but I knew it wouldn't and even knew that it didn't matter. That's the thing with bees: there are always more to take the places of the fallen.
I turned back to my position at the edge of the pool and studied my finger and then looked out at the pool for any more debris.
There were three more bees floating in the water.
I very carefully splashed them up on to the pavement without getting stung and watched their tiny bodies writhe on the cement, as though they were trying to wipe the water off themselves - weakly trying to overcome the surface tension of the water.
Once I was finished I got ready again for another lap and saw more things floating in the water. This time it was two big black ants. They looked like they were trying to swim, clawing at the top of the water with their forelegs in that instinctive way that all creatures seem to employ.
I watched them struggle, then said "Fuck it," dried off, and went inside.