Aribisala Emmanuel 1 year ago
@aribisala-emma... 4 min read Write a comment #short-stories

Finding A Place (chapter 4)

I got up the next morning, did some laundry, and went to brunch. By the time I got back from brunch and retrieved my laundry, it was still only 11:30.

I had an hour and a half to kill before Sheila came over to study. I ended up walking the campus and somehow ended up at the aquatic center. There were stands-swimming was an important sport at Stanford; our team was always nationally ranked, and the meets actually got respectable crowds. So, I parked myself a few rows up and watched. There were a number of people swimming, but I picked her out immediately.

I'd known she was a swimmer, and I knew what swimming entailed. And I'd seen her body-well, under a tee shirt and shorts, but I had an idea about her muscles. But I wasn't prepared for how she looked, powering her way through the water. She was doing the backstroke, and she moved faster than I ever could've imagined. I'd seen swimming at the Olympics, of course, but seeing it on TV didn't come close. Watching her backstroke through the water was like watching a motorboat-except this motorboat was powered by sheer muscle. It was riveting.

I shouldn't have come. That was my first thought. If I was intimidated by her before this-and, I was-this was even more intimidating. I thought about leaving, but I was riveted. After I came to the decision that I was going to leave-Sheila came out of the pool for a break and saw me. "BRENDAN! Hi!" she yelled and then came over to me. "What are you doing here?" "I don't know, I was wandering the campus, killing time, and I decided I wanted to see you swim." "Cool!" she said. "I'm glad. What did you think?" "I'm flabbergasted," I said. "It's so much faster in person." "Everybody says that," she giggled. "Are you going to stick around? I just need to do a few more laps in a couple of minutes; then we can go study." "OK," I said, trying to convince myself.

I ended up staying. Every time I thought about leaving, she paused in her lap and grinned at me. And it really was impressive to watch. The problem was, I had somehow avoided being my usual hopeless tongue-tied self around this girl. I was afraid, after watching what she was capable of, I was going to revert to type. Anyhow, I stayed, and she went out to change, and I waited for her. I think the image of her powering through the water was forever embedded in my mind. Also, I admit it, the image of her standing in front of me, wet, wearing a bathing suit!

She came out, and we walked to my dorm. She was dressed more-or-less as she usually was-shorts and a blouse-but I couldn't see her that way anymore. As I had feared, the old tongue-tied Brendan was in full presence. "You OK?" she asked me after a while. "Fine," I said. "Look, if you don't want to do this today..." she began. "Of course I do," I said. "I'm fine. Really." "No, you're not, but I'm not going to press the issue." How did this girl get me to talk? Before I could stop myself, I told her, "Look. I told you I get shy." "Never around me," she said. "I've never seen you swim before," I said softly. She looked at me but didn't say anything.

Once we got back to my room, I was better because we were back in my element. But the memory lingered long after she had left.

Please like and follow for the next chapter ❤

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