Break 005: Swim Deep/Outskirts
A story by Eirinie Carson alongside the new single by Elhel
On this episode of the Dance Cry Dance Break, we open with “Swim Deep,” a story by Eirinie Carson followed by the exclusive premiere of Outskirts, the new single (available July 1, 2022) by Argentinian artist/producer Elhel.
Elhel is the stage name of Argentinian electro-pop artist/producer Yamil Eljel. Originally a Spanish-language performer, Elhel began writing and recording songs in English in 2019. His newest project is a nostalgic take on electronica inspired by the sounds and images from the films of the 1980’s. He signed with Dance Cry Dance records at the end of 2021 and has begun production on an album set to release later this year.
Eirinie Carson is a Black British Londoner and writer living in California. She is a mother of two children, Luka and Selah. She is a frequent contributor to Mother magazine, and her work has also appeared in Mother Muse and You Might Need To Hear This, with an upcoming piece in The Sonora Review’s Fall edition. She is also the recipient of a fellowship from Craigardan Artists Residency, NY. Eirinie writes about motherhood, grief and relationships and is currently working on her first book about the loss of her best friend, Larissa, and what love looks like after death.
By Eirinie Carson
Cari was a full year older than Rosie, which to an adult might seem like nothing, but to a 19- and 20-year-old was vast. An ocean of knowledge stretched out between them, and although Rosie had done better at school, was getting good grades at college, she felt like an infant around Cari, a fresh born babe who knew nothing, had done nothing. The ocean they found themselves in seemed a bottomless blue, and Rosie was painfully aware of just how far out to sea they were. She didn't like to think of the depths in open water—it made her contemplate the unfathomable map beneath her as she trod water above it: mysterious currents and seismic changes, not to mention the creatures. Blind scaly monsters, impossibly electric with unseen teeth, and smooth beings, getting too close to her legs without her even knowing.
Cari was buoyant with the ocean, casual, her Wayfarers swept up off her face, holding her wet, jet-black hair like a headband, like that song about the summer, widow’s peak severe and mysterious. Rosie was a strong swimmer, but Cari was stronger, having spent so many summers at the beach as a lifeguard. By the end of each season her already enviable body would look as if it were still wearing a swimsuit when naked, stark and comparatively pale. Cari was one of those girls for whom stripping off was undaunting; she would step long lithe legs out of her sundress, revealing a wet but drying bikini bottom, a taut stomach with abs from days of swimming out past the buoys.
Rosie did not have such a body, and although she was technically covered by the waves and water around her, and should have felt weightless and light like a stray piece of seaweed, she felt large and unwieldy, legs peddling desperately, brushing her stomach’s puppy-fat with each stroke. They had the kind of friendship Rosie assumed people whispered about, wondering how such a vibrant, charismatic beauty as Cari could have found such a dumpy, quiet pal in Rosie. But it felt cosy in Cari’s slipstream, cosy and slightly ominous, like stepping into a freshly peed bit of warm. Rosie would trail in her wake, waiting for something exciting to happen to her, if only vicariously through Cari.
This was that heady type of friendship where often Rosie’s stomach would do a big swoosh when she was anticipating seeing her, where even when Cari wasn’t around, she was still the sole occupier of Rosie’s thoughts. She didn’t think about her boyfriend like that. Sometimes he would step into her dorm room, and she would blink several times as if trying to bring her eyes into focus, as if trying to remember who or what this person in front of her was. She always remembered--always remembered to hold his hand and close her eyes when they kissed and smile when he talked to her and try to maintain the roles they were performing. This boyfriend-slash-girlfriend game. It was her first time playing, and she suspected it was his too, although he spoke frequently of his “exes”, but only in vague ways that seemed more to coerce Rosie into a certain type of behaviour: “My ex always did this” “My ex didn’t like rom coms” “My ex always wore matching underwear”. Rosie thought perhaps she might be more bothered by these quite transparent attempts at manipulation, but she couldn’t bring herself to care enough. She would watch his films, coordinate her bras with her knickers, try to push away thoughts of Cari whilst they were talking.
Cari made sure to hang out with Rosie only one on one; if they were ever in a crowd Rosie would find herself being led away to the outskirts of the party, with Cari’s breath on her ear as she whispered her secrets. She hated Rosie’s boyfriend and conjured up a variety of bland names to call him that were not his actual name. “Why do you bother with Darren anyway?” “What do you see in Fred?” “Where’s Martin today, off buying some more cargo pants?” The digs thrilled Rosie, and whilst she never joined in with the ribbing, she loved that Cari was displaying something close to jealousy, some bright, vicious little stone, heavy in the hand and just for her.
Cari seemed as if she wasn't moving, treading water as she looked back toward the shore coolly, even though Rosie felt out of breath from her effort. "Isn't this fun?" Cari smiled through the ocean which splashed against her white teeth as if she was merely part of the landscape. "I come out here every day."
"Mmhmm,” Rosie spluttered, wondering again about the noiseless shapes beneath her feet. A cold current hit her ankles, and she brought her legs up higher, as if peddling on a tricycle. Rosie's father had always told her never to turn her back on the ocean, and so even now, all the way out here, she wouldn't, but she watched Cari bob, perfectly timed, as each and every wave rose behind her. She was like a mermaid, effortless, seeming to stand still amidst the rippling tide. Rosie on the other hand felt a panic to her paddles, and she kept her eyes peeled for suspicious activity, for blue-grey fins to begin to circle.
"Just a little further," Cari called, not quite a question as she moved out to sea.
Rosie turned and looked back to shore, to her boring, predictable boyfriend who would probably propose when they graduated, to whom she would probably say yes. A life, safe and familiar, waiting to unfurl if she would only return to the sand. The beach looked further than Cari, who was bobbing confidently through a blue sea, towards a bluer sky.
"Coming!" Rosie shouted, her mouth filled with bitter saltwater making it difficult to keep breathing, arms combing the water, heavy legs moving her out, out, out of her depths, out of her league.
The Dance Cry Dance Break is written and produced by Natalie Bayne and recorded and edited by Moe Provencher.
Theme music is Red Lines, by Dance Cry Dance Records artist Tiny Tiny.
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