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Swimming with Ghosts

Michelle Brafman

August 8, 2023

Until her unemployed husband Charlie volunteers to step in as team coach, professional organizer Gillian Cloud has also controlled the neighborhood swim club and its team. She’s a beautiful, much-admired part of the community, but Gillian is living behind a façade, refusing to accept the truth about her father’s alcoholism and philandering, suppressing any unpleasantness in order to present her well-known positivity. Her best friend Kristy learns the truth about her own hidden addictions, which surface in a dangerous way and require the support of a former mentor. It’s the summer of 2012, and after the ghosts of family addictions appear, and a real derecho destroys the clubhouse and destroys the power grid for several days, both Gillian and Kristy need to come to terms with their past trauma.

Michelle Brafman is the author of Bertrand Court: Stories and the novel Washing the Dead. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in Oprah Daily, Slate, LitHub, The Forward, Tablet, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction writing in the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program. She’s worked as a coffee barista, radio advertising salesperson, and television producer, among other jobs. She got hooked on writing fiction while she was producing television because she craved another outlet to tell the stories she was gathering. Brafman grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, earned an MA in Fiction Writing from Johns Hopkins University, and in addition to writing, her grand passion is helping others find and tune their narrative voices. A former swim mom and NCAA All-American freestyler, Michelle has never lived more than a mile away from a lake, ocean, or river.

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