If you you saw her you would understand why I waited. Jenny was wearing tight jeans and a red shirt. The shirt brought out the red in her hair. But my eyes drifted to her steel green eyes; eyes that seemed to smile all on their own. Jenny was with her group of girlfriends. We all were in the same next class.
Her friends were not big fans of me. They seemed to not understand Jenny and I’s friendship. I’m sure they also thought I brought her “cool factor” down. First in the group was Chelsea Walter. She was blonde and dressed with all brand names; at least I assumed, she never stopped saying it. She was the one that desperately wanted me gone. She did not filter her words or actions; she made it very obvious. Britney Halt was actually cool. Of Jenny’s three close friends she would be my
favorite. She was super chill; she would sometimes hang out with me and the guys when Jenny and the others were at cheer practices. Lastly Addison Carlton, she was the top student type; she had dark brown hair, glasses, and always had books in her arms. Addison was nonconfrontational to me, but she also was not accepting. Which is funny because I actually hang out with Matthew Wu, who is the top student of our school. Probably she thinks I ruined Matthews cred with my only above average grades. Jenny was the only one that I truly saw.
Jenny walked towards me; with her group trailing behind. “Hey George. What’s up?” Jenny said as she glanced at what I was wearing. “Is your mom stopping by today?” as she gestured to my look.
“You would be correct. She is stopping by at some point; so I’m prepared for all times possible.” I said as we began walking to our next class. Chelsea and Addison were close behind Jenny; while Britney walked beside me. She was cool.
“How’s it going Brit?” Knowing only this cool girl would actually acknowledge my presence.
“All things are good. I’m just going through the days until I can be done with sophomore year. Can’t wait!” as she spoke her expression changed from chill to ultra excitement.
We collectively reached our classroom door and the second bell chimes.
Jenny stops me, “George, can you wait a moment?”
Chelsea, Britney and Addison all leave and enter the classroom; leaving Jenny and I outside. We probably had about five minuets until the next bell.
“Sure what’s up?” I say causually, but knowing where this was going.
“Can you help me again after practice today? Another guy said he would confess after school and I don’t want to be alone with this one. The girls have to leave right after practice. I was going to tell him right off the back that it wouldn’t work out between us, but he brushed me off and left suddenly. And my mom is too busy to get me early,” She said nervously switching from one leg to the next. “I know you are probably annoyed or bothered to be the one I ask, but if I had anyone else I would give you a break.”
As much as I did hate being the barrier for her, and also having to listen to the cringe worthy confessions, I wasn’t about to leave her alone with someone she already felt uncomfortable with. “No problem Jenny. I’ve got your back. I’ll head over right after practice. Is that good?”
“That would be perfect,” relief washed over her face. “Thanks George. I can always count on dependable you.”
“No problem Jenny, but let’s head in or we will be marked tardy,” I say while opening the door and ushering her inside. Just as we sat the third bell rang.
“Good call George.” Jenny said as she gave me the warm smile that turns me into a cheesy human.
“No problem,” I smoothly get out.
Then class begins.
Another full day of meaningless classes and a buttload of homework. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind the homework; it’s just after three hours of brutal swim practice, homework is the last thing you want to be doing. Finally, however, the best part of the day has come: Swim practice! I was heading towards the gym just as Jerry and Ken came into view. They were waiting at the door for me like always. Matthews came rushing up behind me; he did a small bunny hop and wrapped his arm around my neck and gave me a noogie. I did deserve it; I had done this exact thing to him yesterday.
“Seriously dude,” I said as I broke away from his death hold. I forgot to mention, Matthews is tall. Not like Jerry tall, but his own category of tall. He was close to being six foot.
“You know you deserve this. Just be happy I’m taller, because when you did this to me I thought my neck was going to break because of all the force from your jump,” Matthew ended with a chuckle and a punch on my shoulder.
He of course said this knowing that my height wasn’t my strong suit, “Whatever dude. Let’s go,” I said rushing up to Jerry and Ken, who were laughing their butts off.
“Mister sensitive is here. Mister sensitive says its time to practice,” Matthews said laughing as he caught up to us.
Entering the Locker rooms, our teammates were frantically changing. They saw us and gave a collective, ‘Hello,’ and added a ‘Hurry up, Coach is pissed today.’ Understood. We quickly changed and rushed out to the deck. Coach was indeed pissed; he was standing dead center of the pool deck facing the water. If he was in a somewhat pleasant mood he would be sitting in his camping chair drinking his coffee. Not sitting and no coffee meant pissed. We all lined up and Jerry and I started the stretching warm-up. Coach still just stood. Once done with the warm-up, everyone began to fix their suits or messing with their goggles; not wanting to be the one for the deadly deed. Everyone on the team feared Coach, especially when he was pissed. So it fell on the co team captains, Jerry or myself, to ask Coach what we should start with.
Jerry patted me on the shoulder and said, “Thanks buddy,” shoving me forward and skirting away.
This is the norm. Knowing I’ll be on the receiving end of that the ‘chewing out process’, I headed over to Coach. As I walked I tried to be confident and strong as I came to Coach’s side, “Coach what should I start them on?” Silence. “Coach?”
“What!?!” turning to me, ” Oh yeah. Sorry George. What did you say?” Coach said quite startled.
Did Coach just apologize? Coach had mentioned at the start of the year that sorry was not in his vocabulary. “What should I start them on?”
Coach pulled me aside, “George, could you run practice today. I’ve already called a life guard. I need to leave today. Right now.”
WHAT!?! Okay something must be wrong. Coach’s life is this pool, this team. I didn’t hesitate, “Sure. No problem. Is it my choice or do you want some input?”
“Do long distance. I want them and you tired. Write out a workout, one you know I would approve. You may stop occasionally to see if they
are not wimping out; but I want you, especially, to finish the set,” he said with a stern grim face. “Here are the keys. Lock up and just give me the keys tomorrow morning. I’ll give you a pass,” Coach said stepping away. However he stopped suddenly, “Thanks George. It’s a great feeling as a coach to know I can depend on my captain. If the teammates ask just say I said, ‘none of your business,’ they will know I said it. Again Thanks George,” after that he walked past his swimmers and out the door.
I didn’t hesitate, I went towards the whiteboard. I began writing down a set that I knew the team was going to hate my guts. Slowly everyone gathered around me as I finished writing. It was about a three thousand yard set; yeah, they were going to hate me. I turned around to them, meeting gaping mouths. “Well as you can see I’m in charge today. This is today’s set. I will be keeping tabs on people. If people are slacking I will mention it to Coach. Any questions?”
“What’s up with Coach?” Jerry asked but a majority of the team echoed him as well.
“His words, ‘none of your business,'” I said as I waited for arguments, There were none. Coach was right. “Okay well split into your normal lanes. We will begin with the warm up. For the main set follow this rule: lanes in groups of two, intervals will increase by fifteen seconds. Your lane can decide your difficulty but you will
stay and finish. I will have the lifeguard casually watching, and if he sees people stopping he will let me know, and I will relay the info to Coach. I will be staying until everyone is done. Everyone is expected to give it their all. Okay enough with the chit-chat. Let’s get going.” I jumped into the pool and it began.
Man, I was right this workout was going to kill us. Believe me, I was dreading showing Coach my workout, because knowing him, we would probably be doing this again in the future. Occasionally I would stop, and the team would be doing the workout! They looked like they were dying, but they were still moving. I would look to the life guard and he would shake his head and then give me thumbs up. Sweet. Everyone was giving it their all. I continued.
Stopping for the short break, I look at my teammates, and they were still swimming. I looked at the clock and we only had thirty minuets left of practice time, but we probably had about forty minuets of the set left. I was going to finish! However let’s be honest, they would probably opt to stop. As everyone came into the wall they all plopped out of the pool breathing deeply and choking on water.
I only had two minutes to ask them, “Okay everyone we are almost done, but we are running out of time. I’ll give the option. Do you want to finish or do you want to stop on time? I can’t make you stay late, but I will be finishing the set.” Most of them looked up at me like I was an insane person.
“Let’s continue!” a swimmer down in the lower lanes said. “We’ve come this far. And whatever is happening with coach we should do something for him. We should finish.” He said choppy because he was still catching his breath. “If Coach was the one here, he wouldn’t give us the option. Let’s do this!” he ended as he threw his fist into the air.
I looked around and even though they were exhausted, everyone nodded in agreement. The mark to leave was coming up, “okay then let’s do this.” I jumped back into the pool to finish this impossible, a Coach worthy set.