They take the bus through the tunnel to Southbank. Sarah sits next to Cade, near the window, with the skin of her bare leg sticking to his. As they emerge into the afternoon, flashes of light flick over them in a semaphore code of sun and shadow.
It’s a pity you have to pay to swim, says Sarah.
What do you mean?
In the city, I mean. Or anywhere really. It used to be twenty cents, or free. When you wanted to go swimming, you just did.
I guess we’ll have to put up with Kodak beach, then.
That’s where we’re going. Our city’s wonderful manufactured swimming hole.
Isn’t it Streets Beach now?
Who knows. As long as we’re sponsored, that’s the main thing.
I guess it’s better than the river.
Hey, you’re the one who wanted to go swimming.
It’s just that you can’t go swimming there, really. It’s always full of kids and old people. Can you imagine the amount of urine that pours into that place every day?
I’m trying to.
Sarah hits Cade on the arm. You know what I mean, she says. I can never have fun when I don’t know what’s swimming in there with me.
You really have to let go of science sometime. It’s ruining your life.
Tell me about it.
They get off the bus and cross the road. They walk past the Lyric Theatre, past the courtyard with fountains and flags. It’s nearly three o’clock, but the air is still a thick summer soup; a wet blanket with no edges. It feels to Cade like his lungs are ready to rain. The oven-warmth of the day tries to work its way under his hair, under his skin. There’s sweat on his shoulder, where he carries large beach towel that he and Sarah will share. Sarah walks next to him wearing a pair of his old boardies, and a rash shirt belonging to Gale. She looks undersized and sexy. Cade feels suddenly happy in the heat. Sarah smiles at him, with her big sunglasses reflecting a fisheye version of her view.
They get to the fake beach. All around them are sunburnt stomachs and splayed legs on the grass, heads with water-plastered hair; sand socks on children’s ankles. Cade jumps down onto the beach from the concrete walkway.
Instant coastline, he says, dropping the towel down beside him.
Sarah steps down off the pathway hesitantly, one foot at a time—as if the sand is the water, as if it’s a winter deep end.
Cade wraps his fingers around hers. Come on, he says. Before all the good germs are taken.
Just a second, says Sarah. She takes off her sunglasses and unties her hair.
Hand in hand, they make their way down to the artificial tide line. They walk out to where the water reaches their chests, where Sarah suddenly dives under, pulling Cade down with her. Their bodies break under the surface, where the temperature is cooler, where everything is lighter and slower than the inverted world above them. They kiss underwater, in a weightless, spiralling holding pattern, and—for a moment—nothing else really matters.