Lingering Doubt

January 9, 2018
By emmaatlas GOLD, Cambridge, Massachusetts
emmaatlas GOLD, Cambridge, Massachusetts
11 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The water in the pool is choppy as people swim by. The small blond haired girl sits alone on the red bleachers hugging her knees rocking slightly back and forth. She is unaware of the figure standing behind her until the it places a wispy hand on her shoulder.


EMMA: Jumping a bit: Don't do that you scared me.
ANXIETY: Not more than I usually do I hope.


Emma ignores the figure and looks back to the pool as the next heat prepares to dive into the icy water below her.


ANXIETY: Your race is coming up soon. Don't you think you should get ready?
EMMA: Don't rush me I know what I'm doing, I´ve done this before.
ANXIETY: But do you really? You remember how much this race hurt in practice, how much it hurt last meet. You completed it yes but just barely, what if you fail this time? Remember how that girl threw up last meet after her 100 fly? That could be you today.


Emma looks down not wanting to admit how much the figures words are getting to her.


ANXIETY: Ahhh. Now you´re getting scared.
EMMA: I'm not. I can do this.
ANXIETY: Leaning in a little closer: Sure you can probably complete the race, but what if you´re slower than all your friends. You'll lose your spot in lane four. You can already feel your coaches tolerance with you waning. You'll just have to watch everyone else advance to the higher levels but you’ll be stuck always lesser. A lot rests on this event better not overthink it.


Emma justs sits there. The web of words this dark figure spun weaving its way into her mind, fogging her thoughts making her feel like she is floating.


EMMA: Trying to fight through the mess of words: Why are you here?! I solved this! I´m okay now! It's all going to be okay!
ANXIETY: But how do you know that?! All sorts of things can go wrong. You can't predict the future.
EMMA: Neither can you.
ANXIETY: Oh. Now you're starting to stand up for yourself, interesting. Well we will see how you do today. Once you step up on that block we'll see how strong your resolve is. As you stare down the others around you, as they glower at you. They think you're nothing, they know they can beat you. In their minds you are insignificant, a thought in the back of their subconscious. You need to realize your place, and then this all may be easier. You're never going to be as good as them. You're weak, a nuisance to your coaches, the laughingstock of your team......
EMMA: Head now in her hands, trying to block the noise: Stop! Please... stop....


The dark figure looks at the small girl, no emotion on its smoke like face.


ANXIETY: A little bit softer: Four heats to go. You should get ready.
Emma gets up, legs shaking. She takes off her towel and shudders at the sudden cold. She makes her way slowly down the steps of the bleachers and to the edge of the pool. She is trying not to let anyone see her shaking. She takes her place behind the blocks and waits.
ANXIETY: Whispering into Emma’s ear: Don’t fall off the block, now that would be really embarrassing.
Emma tries to ignore the words. The whistle sounds and she steps up on the block, the figure standing right beside her as she prepares to dive.
ANXIETY: You're not strong enough for this. You will fail......
The figure goes on but Emma is no longer listening. She bends down wrapping her fingers around the rough edges of the block. The whistle sounds and she dives into the cold water. Leaving the dark figure behind. She feels free in the water, safe.
ANXIETY: Waiting for Emma as she gets out of the pool: So you completed the race. Congratulations.
Emma ignores the figure. Walking over to where she had left her towel.
ANXIETY: You may have completed this race but what about the ones to come, have you thought about them?
EMMA: Stopping, saying quietly: Yes.
ANXIETY: Smiling for the first time: Good. I’ll see you then.


The smoky figure vanishes and Emma is left alone on the red bleachers to ponder their next encounter.


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