I jump into the cold water and shiver.

“Ay ma’ hoy si que esta fría,” I comb my hair back with both hands and I give my mother my black Speedo swimming cap for her to help me with.

Once it’s on, she gets up and says she’ll be back in thirty minutes. She didn’t want to go to the gym today. We’ll be picking up Isa, Elosie’s sister from her dance program for the weekend and my mom went out drinking for my bro’s birthday party last night. She’s tired. But I want to swim, so she decides to go begrudgingly and I’m grateful. I haven’t had a chance to swim since Wednesday.

I adjust my goggles and plunge in for a first lap.

****

I’ve just finished my forth lap and am at the edge of the lane heaving. A young man gets in the lane next to mine. The first thing I notice is he has a beard and big blue eyes. Hey, he’s kind of cute. I pretend not to notice but it’s too late.

“The water’s cold isn’t it,” he does a little jerk with his head.

“Yeah,” I nod, “it’s pretty cold, especially today. But once you get in all the way, you’re good.”

“Yeah–” he adjusts his goggles and just stands there looking at me with a big ‘ole pretty smile. I mean he has teeth and everything!

“What’s your name?”

“Paz. Yours?”

“K, nice to meet you,” he reaches out to shake my hand. I grab it. He’s shivering.

“Thank you… I mean, nice to… meet you… too,” What the hell did I just say? Thank you? P, you are silly.

“Just dive in real quick,” I tell him. This boy here is stalling. “Going in real’ quick is best way. I’m telling you. It’s so much worse when you nudge yourself in slowly. Come on,” I smile back. I’m still hanging on to the ledge. I’m so small that I can’t even touch the floor on a four-foot deep pool. I’m constantly having to tread water. By now my breath is at a normal pace and I’m noticing how anxious I start to feel. Damn it dude, quit taunting me with your beard and just get in so I can swim. This is ruining my flow! I’m getting nervous having you just smiling at me like that! Shit, I’d already managed to lower my anxiety on the third lap and now it’s back up agai…

“–but I’m a wuss.”

“It’s the only way man. One, two, three! Come on!” I call out. He calls out the numbers after me and finally goes in.

Aaaah. I can relax now.

Damn those beards always get to me.

****

I love beards!

I can’t help it. I love ’em on men. I’m not so sure I’d love ’em on women, but hell, I love ’em so much I may as well love ’em on women!

And this white boy here has a nicely trimmed golden beard!

****

I’m swimming and swimming. I do my fifth lap or is it my sixth? Damn, is that bearded fella still next to my lane? Oh yep, I can feel the water being pushed. He’s there for sure.

I’m swimming and swimming some more. I’m trying to focus on my stroke patterns, my breathing, my heartbeat, how the water feels when I do my pushes and pulls, my body’s level–all mindfulness. All of this is such good exercise on mindfulness practice from dialectical behavioral therapy.

But I’m not always so mindful.

Remember to do the S. curve in your pull like that olympic swimmer did in that YouTube video. Michael Phelps does a gorgeous dolphin kick. I wonder what he’s like in bed. Ian Thorpe’s dolphin kick is also lovely. Wonder how’s he’s in bed too. No, I think I’d go with Michael, then again… Shit, is this my eight or ninth lap? I’m getting worn. No, I gotta keep it up. Is that guy still there? Damn, I love Saturdays ’cause NO ONE’S HERE on Saturdays. But that guy’s still there! Yep, I’m feeling his waves. One, two, three, breath. One, two, three, breath. Remember your S curve on the stroke. Your arms are paddles! Even your crooked T-Rex arm! One, two, three, breath. Ohhh, wall is coming up… One…two…three…four…five…hold breath, turn, flip, push-dolphin kick–paddle, ooout. Uggggh. P, that was a horrible flip! At least you made it though; you made it. Good. Good. You made it. You’ll do better on the next run… Is that dude still there? Quit thinking about the bearded boy dammit! And damn you L! You should be here. You should be swimming! Oh, wall…

I keep swimming until my ninth or tenth lap. I’m not sure by this point. I’m worried that when I stop, the guy will be there and sure enough he is, but so is my mom.

“Mamita! Hey!” I look startled.

She looks down at me and shows me her gloves, “Se me olvido esto. Me faltan tres sets.” She’d come back for her gloves. She takes a few steps back and closes my bag which is dangling on the back of my wheelchair.

“Ok ma, entonces que, veinte minutos mas?”

“Si,” she blows a kiss and I blow one back.

Oh yeah, the dude. Yep, he’s still there. Fuck it, I’m going for another lap.

****

I think I just did my eleventh lap, but I’m not sure since I lost track on my sixth, or was it my eight? It was somewhere around there. I usually loose track on the eighth but today a bearded boy is swimming next to me.

I’m hanging on the ledge. I’m panting out of breath. He arrives shortly after, also panting. I’m panting harder. He’s panting harder and heavier still. I think I let out a little moan, but it may have been a cough. And I can’t help thinking how sexual all this heavy breathing seems.

“Don’t make me look bad P.”

“Oh,” I chuckle, “How? Was I going quick?”

“Yeah,” He nods vigorously, “I was noticing that you even do the flip turns!”

“Oh,” I chuckle again, “Yeah, I’ve just started learning how to do those. I tend to do them lop-sided though, but oh well, I get it done somehow.” I think it’s because of my scoliosis.

“Well, you still make me look bad. I wouldn’t know about the turns.”

“Aren’t you a swimmer?” Stupid question P, of course he’s not a swimmer! Look at him!

“No, I try to be,” he laughs.

“My best friend [Eloise] was a competitive swimmer in college and she taught me a few things. When you do the backstroke like I was doing, you’re supposed to do a front flip and then kick back just before you hit the wall. That way you get more momentum on your dolphin kick. And that’s how you get the best push offs, but I can’t seem to get it right half the time,” I gesture with my hand. “Oh here, I’ll show you.”

What the fuck P? Why are you going to show him? Are you trying to show off?  You’re gonna look stupid! Aarggggh. 

I plunge myself back and start talking about how you’re supposed to measure how many strokes you do before you hit the wall but since there are no flags in this natatorium here to signal the wall, “I have to guesstimate” I gurgle a little as I talk. “So when I guesstimate about right here–maybe five strokes or so–I flip…”

I’m underwater thinking what a fuckin’ idiot I am. He didn’t ask me to show him. What the fuck are you doing P, seriously? Your flips are terrible! If you’re trying to flirt, this is NOT PRETTY!

“Yeah, that was a pretty bad flip,” I say as soon as I resurface. I’m trying not to cough, so I laugh instead. I’m trying not to laugh so I cough. I feel like such a child.

“It’s hard to do.”

“So you been coming here a while?” I think of the word cum. heheh. I also start to have sexual images in my head.

“No, I just started. I used to go the University _______ pool at the Rec Center but it was even colder there since the swimmers train,” he starts leaning on to his side to face me directly.

“Oh, yeah?! I went there! Yeah, it’s funny ’cause I always told myself I’d go swimming but I never did. Then when I graduated, I actually did finally go thinking I’d have alumni privileges and they said–”

“–you have to pay,” he interjects.

“Yeah, exactly, you have to pay. That sucks. So what’d you take at Uni… I mean what’d you major in?”

“Mechanical engineering,” he replies. Yep, he’s got the nerdy look alright. Definitely a nerdy white boy. A cute, nerdy white boy with a beard! “What about you?”

“Media production,” I reply a little too quick.

“Oh yeah?! My friend did that. He’s teaching music now.”

He tells me more about his musician friend and I tell him that I don’t think I ever knew or met his friend. It’s such a big campus, even if we were in the same program, chances are we never met. And then I tell him that I play the piano, that I had done a two-year audio recording/engineering and music program before going to the University ______.

“But I haven’t played the piano in about three years. I’ve picked up the ukulele though, recently. Since I’m so small, it seems perfect for me.”

By now, this boy’s eyes are lighting up. I can tell. But then again, I’m unsure. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I want them to light up. And then one of the critical Pretty Little Demons starts buggin’: What in the hell do you think you’re doing? Monkey Man just died! You’re fuckin’ awful! Good for nothin’! Are you trying to flirt? hahah. You don’t even know how to flirt! Look at you! Look at you! You’re pathetic. You and your flips. Showing off? HA. You and your crooked arm and your crooked smile. Don’t let him see those scars on your arms, yeah, the fresh ones from last Saturday.

But, but… Monkey Man L and I weren’t together for the last six months before his death… We were in another one of our separation phases, sort of… But I wasn’t with Monkey Man at the time, and, why do… I don’t wanna… Ugh… I’m not trying to… I want to bang my head against the wall! I want to die!

“Yeah, you should definitely get back to playing ukulele. That would be awesome!” he smiles again. I want to touch his beard.

“Yeah. I will. I mean, I plan to, well, I’m a go to the hot tub, I’m kinda… as you can see, I’m… freezing now… Um, good luck on your job applications and congrats on graduating. Was really nice meeting you,” I head for the stairs.

When I’m on the stairs stretching or trying to or pretending to, he says “You forgot your goggles.” Great. He crosses over to the lane I was just in and gets them for me.

“Thank you,” I smile. I’m glad I can smile again literally–after the bell’s palsy– and metaphorically after so many tears.”These are getting on my nerves anyway. Water keeps getting in. Thank you.”

“It was nice meeting you.”

“You too,” I reply… Only I think I say something else because I was nervous, cold and shivering.

“I’m going to do two more laps and I’ll say by on my way out.”

“Ok, sounds good,” I get up and get on my chair. I stroll myself on over to the hot tub area. I get in. Aaaaah, warmness. About eight or ten minutes later, he calls out and says bye. I want to tell him I’m hard of hearing but I don’t.

“Alright, bye! Nice meeting you! Take care!” I wave.

Well, I kinda rushed that didn’t I?

He waves and walks out. I crouch back in the hot tub and wait for my mom to return.

fuck buddy

This one made me laugh. Terrible. I was thinking about this yesterday after the fam ate dinner for my bro’s birthday and his girlfriend celebrated decided to celebrate at this place called “Drink Houston”. Yeah, I went to the dinner but not to Drink Houston. Avoiding the loud, alcoholic places right now. But I wondered if I missed out on meeting anyone there, ahem, read the caption. Well, I guess I did meet someone today. And I didn’t have to get wasted to act a fool. Nope, not at the gym’s pool!

****

Today has been good thus far. Anxiety’s the same but at least I haven’t had mad-major mood shifts.

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