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  • Writer's pictureclairemirsky3

Poolside.

Gaby goes to great lengths to run into Thomas.


Gaby had just finished her first lap. Or length? The difference between the two escaped her. It seemed she couldn’t get a hold on anything that day. Her attempt at freestyle had left her out of breath and at arm’s length from her water bottle, which was now rolling loudly towards someone’s feet.

“Aren’t you supposed to be up the hill?” His voice had grown fuller. Its vibration startled her.

“Thomas! What’re you doing here?” She feigned surprise. It was unconvincing.

“I go here… unlike some people. Gaby. What are you doing here?”

Maybe she didn’t think this through. Her hair was in a cap. She was sure there were red rings around her eyes from her googles. Yes, not fully thought out.

“I’m training.”

“You? You’re training? For what?!”

“A triathlon.”

He laughed. He tilted his head back, exposing his throat. Gaby inhaled.

“Are you serious?”

“Well, it’s a mini-triathlon.”

“Ah, that sounds more reasonable.”

“It’s been a while, Thomas. Who knows? I could be a very talented athlete now.”

“I just saw you. Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t think that’s the case.”

Gaby pouted.

“Don’t worry, you’re good at just about everything else.”


Her mouth softened into a smile.

“Speaking of which, why aren’t you here? Your grades are better than mine.”

“Yeah, I know. Babs wouldn’t allow it. You know how she feels about ‘too much stress.’ It could put me ‘at risk. Alas, I’ve been banished to Ithaca College, where my brain will suffer from boredom.’”

“Hmm, well, I get that. About the ‘too much stress,’ not quite sure about your brain. I don’t think you’re capable of boredom.”

“She’s just being overprotective, I’m not her.”

Thomas softened. “I know you’re not.”

Gaby swallowed, having mentioned the one person that has the power to turn Thomas into liquid. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“Don’t be. I don’t really – I don’t – It doesn’t – don’t worry.”

Gaby started to approach the edge of the pool to get out but stepped away. She wasn’t sure she could find a graceful way to get her body out of the water in front of Thomas. So, she stayed put, letting her fingers wrinkle.

Thomas peered down at her. “So, when do we get to catch up for real?”

“For real?”

“Yeah, ideally where we’re both standing on solid ground, and I’m not towering over you.”

“Technically I am on solid ground. I’m just under water. And you’d probably tower over me anyways.”

“That’s true.”

“Babs was trying to get me to invite some people over, but I think she’s just desperate for friends.”

“So, she’s trying to rope in a bunch of eighteen-year-olds?”

“She says that’s her ‘spirit age.’”

“Ah… sounds like Babs.”

“Yup,” Gabby popped her “P” and was reminded of her lips. She curled her bottom one beneath her teeth and peered up.

“We could do a bonfire, like we used to.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I can invite some people from my dorm. You can invite whoever.”

“Solid. Ok, text me with details. I’ve got to get to practice. You still have my number?”

“I think so. It hasn’t changed, has it?”

“No.”

“Ok, well, then I have it.”

Gaby watched Thomas speed walk against the wet tile towards a hoard of swimmers and pulled her body out of the water.

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