I watched him swim, lap after lap, stroke after stroke, preparing for the finals. In one week, I would be in the stands, cheering him on (even though he couldn’t hear me, he already said).
But my mind was elsewhere.
As I trailed my feet through the water, in the lane next to his, I found myself thinking back to yesterday’s events.
The University’s security system had been breached. Again. The walls they’d built around the grounds to keep out the crime were doing little good, because crime was still finding its way in, or worse, it was beginning from the inside itself.
They told us not to worry, that everything was under control. But it wasn’t, and that fact was getting harder and harder to ignore.
Like the bomb that had gone off just yesterday, three blocks from my dorm. Parents were threatening to pull their students from the school if the city didn’t get things under control.
It was our senior year, so we weren’t about to walk away from a degree that was just months away from completion. Besides, I don’t think that the answer is control. I think it’s compromise. But don’t let my boyfriend catch me talking of such things.
Because he knows right, and I don’t know enough. Or so he thinks, sometimes.
He finished his last lap and I clicked the timer. He looked up at me, breathing heavily, leaning against the buoys that divided us. “Time?” He asked breathlessly.
“One minute, 35 seconds.”
He sank back into the water, kicking his feet gently. “Not bad,” he mused. “Could be better.”
“You’ll be fine,” I said, leaning over to him. He reached out a hand, ducking under the bouys to join me, and I took it. “You’re just nervous.”
“I’m fine,” he brushed it away. “I should do it again.” He pulled away, but I held on firmly.
“You shouldn’t,” I countered. “You’re worn out from the first set. Let’s take a break, and then you can get back in.”
“But I’m not out,” he raised an eyebrrow, tugging playfully on my hand, trying to swim away.
“But I am,” I said. I set my phone down and leaned back, raising an eyebrow. “And you should be too.”
“Or you could just come in,” he said slowly, his fingers curling around my wrist.
“Oh no,” I said. Now I was the one who was trying to get away. “I don’t have a change of-”
He latched both of his hands onto my arrms, and pulled. I knew there was nothing I could do, but I shrieked anyway, tumbling forward into the pool on top of him.
“You jerk,” I said, splashing at him playfully, laughing as he pulled me close and held me to him in the water.
“I try,” he said, slowly turning us in a circle. “Only the best for you.”
“Let’s get out of here,” I said. “You can come back to my dorm for lunch.”
“If you insist,” he shrugged, and released me. I swam to the side of the pool and boosted myself up and out of the water.
“What do you want for-”
My words were cut off as a thundering boom filled the air, shaking the ground beneath me. I jerked my head up towards the sound, and saw it: a cloud of smoke, rising from the direction of my dorm.
I turned back to my boyfriend, but he wasn’t looking at me, only focused on the smoke. “Let’s go,” he said quietly. “Grab your stuff.”
I did, picking things up as fast as I could, disregarding the moisture that soaked into my belongings.
“We’ll be going to my dorm,” he said, throwing his towel around his shoulders in one quick movement, then wrapping it around his waist. He helped me up, and we hurried out of the pool area, hand in hand, all hope of playfulness gone.
It was still happening. And there was nothing we could do about it.
Source: This blog series is inspired by the book “Earth from Above: 365 Days” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Click here to read more about my Creation365 series.
The top picture is from “Brazil. Sao Paolo University swimming pool.”
Arthus-Bertrand, Yann, Isabelle Delannoy, and Christian Balmes. 2005. The Earth from above: 365 days. New York: Harry N. Abrams.