A/N: I've really been reading too much doujin.
Reconsider – The XX
there are people on this planet for whom it is the most difficult thing to live on land.
i am one of them.
when i was a child vacationing in florida with my withering grandmother, there were many days where she'd call my mother in a frenzied fright, complaining to her of how she couldn't coax me out of the pool. i'd stretch beside the edge of the pool every night, watching the wind slightly lift the waves and then lay them down to sleep once again, listening to the relaxing ripples and the faint noise of my nana calling my name. there is nothing more peaceful, more comforting, more friendly than water. we were all born of the sea, of primordial soup. some of us have not yet adjusted to the dirt.
my arms break the surface of the water tenderly, like snapping a lover's broken nose into place. after turning my face so that my nose is in the air, i take a deep breath and propel myself forward. i could imagine the noise i must be making above, the splashing and the gasping but there is nothing under the water, only bubbles and bella.
the swimming club forks high school recently concocted is severely lacking in funding and fanfare, so much so that i am the only one swimming right now. the rest of the "team" has gone "home", or rather, they've gone out for burgers and fries. i'm left to swim laps without a coach or a lifeguard because everyone has gotten sick of my dedication. breaststrokes, backstrokes, crawlstrokes from one end to the other. beneath the surface i spit out all my emotions, my desires, my fears, my failures. beneath the surface i am wiped clean and allowed to emerge with a cool, wet mask in place.
the school bell rings, but there is no class in session. it's a quiet code the janitor and i use; the faculty has gone home and it's about time i do the same. i decrease the strength of my strokes so that im coasting along the small ripples, focusing on the feeling of the water caressing my skin. i close my eyes for just a few seconds; absorbing the last precious droplets of peace i can before going home to calamity. i swim to the pool stairs and climb out, listening to the sound of dripping water echo off the walls of the moldy room.
after slicking my wet hair back with my fingers, i grab my clothes off the nearby bench and throw them on, struggling with my shirt as it sticks to my wet skin. i haul on my backpack and head out the back door – the emergency exit would lead me straight to the parking lot – but it's locked from the outside. i turn back and walk through the hallways instead, moving as quickly as i can, hoping the janitor doesn't see me. but he does. just as i open the entrance doors and walk through them, his voice chases me down the hall.
"bella how many times do i have to tell you to dry off before you walk through these damn halls! i have a family waiting at home too you know!"
"sorry!" i call over my shoulder but he and i both know tomorrow will be the same ordeal. i never dry off, not after showering, not after swimming, not after walking in the rain. it's a process that will never make sense to me. i move swiftly towards my beat up old pickup, slightly invigorated by the cool air running through my wet scalp. water makes everything much more enjoyable. i feel crumpled and crisp as i shuffle towards my vehicle.
i hop into the cab and start the truck right away, knowing that i'm running on borrowed time. my mother and father will be arguing over their "trivial topic of the week" and my tardiness will only fan the flames – something i don't need. i have a hard enough time sleeping at night without their fires burning way into the wee hours of the morning. i reverse recklessly and swivel around before speeding towards the exit – only to slam my foot on the brakes. a silver volvo glitters in the soft pink twilight, parked across the exit space of the parking lot with what looks like no immediate plans to move. still, i give him the benefit of the doubt and wait a few moments before leaping out of my cab and slamming the door behind me. he is normally here when i'm leaving school to head home but hehas never been as much of a nuisance as he is now. this is quite ridiculous because i know he knows i'm here late. we've crossed paths in the parking lot numerous times due to our "afterschool activities".
as i approach the volvo i can hear a one sided shouting match ensuing – his latest victim sounds like a dying animal wailing it's last pleas for mercy.
"what is fucking wrong with you?! you were the one who asked me out you fucking freak! why would you do this to me?!" her sobs crawl through the humid air and linger. a worm begins squirming in my stomach but my cool, wet mask is still stuck carefully in place. in between her heaving i hear edward's sighs, thick and exaggerated. the fucking asshole.
"i don't like you anymore lauren."
"why?! what have i done wrong?!"
i'm almost there.
"i hate people who fall in love with me."
"what the fuck are you even saying right now, am i joke to you?!"
i bend down and lean against the closed passenger door.
"hey. you're in the way. i've got to get home." looking into the volvo i can see lauren's face swollen with grief and incredibly close to mine. she swipes at her tears quickly but remains focused on edward's apathetic face. he adjusts his rear view mirror before looking at me with a soft but sinister smile. i raise my eyebrows.
"ah. sorry." he doesn't look sorry at all.
"okay well hurry up and move, yeah?" i turn to walk back to my truck but edward calls out my name, warm and firm. i turn back to the volvo but make no move to get closer from where i'm standing. a strong breeze flows through the wet strands of hair hanging off my shoulders.
"you hate me right?" a laugh blurts out of my chest before i can stop myself but it's okay because he's laughing too. from my stance in the parking lot i can see not more than lauren and his shiny white teeth.
"it's okay. i'm not angry. that ice cold gaze of yours, it really exhilarates me."
"what?" i move forward to better gauge his expression but lauren's croak of a voice reminds us of her presence.
"how dare you talk to somebody else when i'm sitting right here! i mean, what the fuck, i'm being completely disrespected!"
the volvo purrs to life and speeds off, sleek and quiet except for the sound of lauren's angry insults. i walk back to my truck, confounded by what just happened, and drive home.
the small space of tranquility i'd achieved from my afternoon swim is instantly destroyed once i walk across the threshold of my home. far off to my left, from the kitchen i hear my parents well into their nightly argument, screeching at each other like a couple of barn owls in heat.
"bella, is that you?" my father calls, "what are you doing home so late? i called jessica stanley's mother and she said jessica came home around four!"
"don't change the fucking subject charlie! you never consider how i feel, all you do is talk and talk and talk!"
"oh yeah! well all you do is fucking yell, who do you think i'm working this hard for?! you ask and i try to deliver but you're never fucking satisfied reneé!"
i dash up the stairs before they can pull me into their argument and hide in the bathroom. i drop my bags and turn the bathtub faucets, running hot and cold water at full capacity. the sound of the water slamming against the ceramic basin helps in muffling their screams and i'm grateful. i slowly peel off my clothes, embracing the sound, imagining a crisp waterfall beside me.
having been raised in a household full of arguments i'd developed a habit of diving beneath the bathtub water to drown out the sounds. i don't know when it happened, just that it was most effective way to keep calm and keep distant. the water became another world for me.
i sit down in the bathtub, determining the water temperature and how comfortable it feels against my skin before taking a deep breath and slipping beneath the surface. only in the water can i let out all the words on my heart. with my eyes closed i listen to the words mingle with the water lapping at my ears.
"that ice cold gaze of yours, it really exhilarates me."