already getting difficult to keep posting. every fiber in me says this is a worthless venture and I need to just give up. I used to think New Years was the worst time of year – I’m beginning to think any time where I’m dealing with the past is a LOUSY time of year ;(
anyhoo – chapter 4:
4 ~ Things Best Forgotten ~
“Damn, I don’t believe I grabbed this.” I sat down on the bench in front of my locker, staring at the swim suit in my hand.
“What’s wrong?” Jared glanced at me while sliding himself into his suit. “Looks like perfectly good speedo to me.”
“It is, I suppose. But I hadn’t planned on bringing a speedo in the first place and in the second place this is the one Annie got me … a few years ago. Personally, I’ve never figured why since I had other good ones.”
“Well slip it on and let’s go. You can’t get in the water nude, dude, and I’m not letting you weasel out of the swim.”
I stood to finish dressing. “Did you really just not only say ‘dude’ but rhymed it into ‘nude’?”
He grinned. “Pretty good, huh?” He paused and stared at me. “I think I know why Annie liked those … you do pack them well.”
“I dunno know what you put in your coffee in the mornings, Jer – but I do think you should share it.”
“Don’t think you could handle it, Paul. Private blend.”
“And quit staring, you’re making me self-conscious” I grabbed my towel and held it somewhat in front of myself.
He threw his towel over a shoulder. “Can’t help it. You know what you’re carrying and you know me – so there should be no real surprise here, partner.”
We laughed and headed to the pool. Our ears were assailed by the screeches of children before we rounded the final corner. We both stopped short and stared. The shallow end of the pool was filled with splashing, laughing kids with a few older teens. Sitting around the lip of the pool were young adults, assumedly parents to the giggling horde.
“Oh damn, I forgot,” he exclaimed.
“First Saturday of the month is their ‘Toddler Swim’ thing – they teach little ones how to swim.”
“When did this start?”
“A few months ago.” He looked at me. “You really have been gone too long, you know that?”
“So now what?”
Jared glanced at the clock behind one of the two lifeguard stations. “It only goes until ten, so in twenty minutes they clear out.” He pointed across the enclosure. “Hot tub’s open.”
I started across the room. “Sounds good. We can soak for a bit then swim.”
We dropped towels on a couple of chairs by the whirlpool. Jared stepped over to turn on the timer dial for the jets while I slid myself into the water. I relaxed in front of a jet, sinking until my shoulders submerged, legs stretched out in front of me. Jared had just stepped into the water when he stopped short.
“I …think I know why Annie liked that suit.”
“Just a sec.” He got back out and turned off the timer on the jets.
“What did you do that for?”
“Look at yourself. I mean your suit.”
I started to stand.
“No – just look down at your suit.”
I arched a brow then glanced down at myself through the water. “Crap!” I jumped up and stumbled out of the tub, grabbing my towel. I glanced down once more before wrapping the towel around my waist.
Jared laughed softly. “Easy man, you’ll give yourself a stroke.”
“The damn thing disappears in water! What the hell was she thinking, having me wear this thing?” I started looking around the room to see if anyone had noticed when I got out of the tub, particularly nervous about the younger set at the far end of the adjacent pool.
“I dunno if it ‘disappears’ but it sure comes close. I’ve never seen a suit do that before.” Jared winked. “I bet I know a certain club clerk that would love to see it modeled.”
I felt the anger rising in my face. “Shut up, Jared. Just … shut up.”
“Shut the flip up.”
He sighed and glanced across the room. “Looks like the crowd is on its way out a little early.”
“So?” I queried. I can’t go back in the water with this thing. Damn, when I think of all the places I’ve worn this suit – No wonder I got some of the looks I’ve seen! Half surprised I was never arrested for indecent exposure.”
“Paul, chill. No one has said anything, no one paid any attention. If anything, you’re drawing attention to yourself now. Just relax already.”
I plopped myself into one of the chairs. “Jared, what was she thinking? Why would she … expose me like that?”
“Don’t do this to yourself, man.” He replied. “You’re distraught and over-stressing this thing. Let it go. You can get rid of it and not worry about it anymore.”
I sighed and allowed myself to calm. “Sorry, Jer. That just really rattled me. You understand I am not going swimming.”
He actually laughed. “It’s ok. We’ll just postpone for next week. And to make it clear, yes – I will be picking you up next Saturday at nine in the morning to come swim.”
I smiled and nodded. “Got it. Thanks, Jer.”
My hands were still shaking after showering and getting dressed. Jared initialed my exit for me on the logs and we walked in silence to the car. As he was starting to back out of his parking place, I chuckled then started laughing. Hard. And crying at the same time.
Jared stopped the car. The concern on his face was etched in stone. “Are you ok?”
I struggled to catch my breath. “Yeah. I’m just … yeah, I’m cool.”
“You don’t appear ‘cool’. You look like you’re having a breakdown.”
I slowed, then broke out laughing again. I shook my head and fought to regain control, gradually calming and relaxing my breathing. “Sorry.”
“What just happened?”
“Annie’s warped sense of humor.” I chuckled again, but managed not to break into full laughter. Instead I shook and the tears began again. “I miss her so much.” I leaned my face against the coolness of the window beside me.
“I know, Paul. I know,” was all he said before putting the car in gear and heading to take me home.