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An anger, more fierce than the devil himself, bellowed up inside of her. He walked toward her, her fists clenched, turning her knuckles pure white. She could feel her bitten nails digging into the palm of her hand as she stared blankly at the pool in front of her. Four lanes in the 25 meter long pool. In the left lane, a man who looked exactly like her old, disgruntled coworker swam. Her leg shook vigorously as he approached, trying to hold herself back from just standing up and leaving. Even if she wanted to leave, she couldn’t. Her coworker was nowhere to be found. The red tube, that was sitting across the handles of the green lawn chair she was sitting in, began to slip. She gripped it, leaving a firm hand print in the foam. She fiddled with the black strap on the red tube and re-wrapped it around the end. Still, out of the corner of her eye, he was approaching her. His slow swag making her want to leave even more. No one was around so she knew he was coming to talk to her. Finally, he approached her and pulled another green lawn chair off the stack from behind him. Casually, he set it on the right sight of hers. She continued to look straight ahead staring intently at the swimmer. She felt exposed, out in the open, nothing to hide behind. She had her whistle propped in her mouth, praying someone would need help. She could see the blur of him, in the corner of her eye, turn to her.
“You are a hard girl to get alone.” She held her breath with no response.
“Now that I can talk to you with no one around, I’m sorry.” This is what she had been waiting months to hear and now she didn’t know what to do. She didn’t hate him anymore. She just wanted nothing to do with him. She spoke but regretted it.
“I mean it,” his voice cracked and he fidgeted. He put his hand on her arm and she felt as though she lost all strength. She turned to him.
“I am really sorry. I didn’t want you to get hurt.”
“Okay.” Then there was silence. She was dumbfounded. Did he mean it? He pulled his hand away and stared at the water with her. Several long seconds later, he spoke again.
“Can we be civil? I mean, obviously when we don’t talk its awkward.” The corners of her mouth twitched into a forced, crooked smile. He continued, “I just hate how we ignore each other even though we are bound to see each other at least twice a week. It’s getting out of hand. I know what happened was my fault but in that, I lost a friend and I didn’t realize before, how much of a difference you made. I had someone to talk to but now, I have no one.” Again there was silence.
“What about your girlfriend?”
“I can only tell her so much, but you, you I could tell everything.” She felt like crying at this point but held her composure. They talked for the rest of her shift. They talked about what had gone on in their lives since the two months before when they fought.
She was torn internally. He had broken her heart, left her out to dry, and never cared. He used her and admitted it. There was a long pause between them again.
“Like I said, awkward.” He chuckled.
“Something has been bugging me, for a long time.”
“Well, when it ended, you said you had felt like ending it for a long time. Why couldn’t you have said anything earlier. It hurt me.”
“I’m sorry, it’s hard to explain but I enjoyed spending time with you and I would forget about how I felt for that moment. Then, afterwards, it didn’t seem right to say anything. I just thought that things wouldn’t work out, then no one would get hurt.”
“And how’d that work for ya?” He looked down and nervously looked at his phone. Again, it became incredibly odd. She became anxious for her shift to be over. She planned on driving to an empty parking lot to cry. Why wouldn’t he just leave?