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Rated: ASR · Fiction · Family · #2256283
Prompt: what does water mean to your characters and what part does it play in their world?
Marley used to love and excel at swimming, having won multiple IM competitions as a junior. But with her parents’ divorce and her mother’s subsequent marriage to Jim, everything changed.

Nowadays, she felt so self-conscious when she put on a swimsuit. Normally she could hide her figure - and any possible marks - by wearing baggy clothes. Not an option here, especially since the gym teacher, Mrs. Ridell, required every student to participate in the swimming unit unless there were some medical excuse. She said they were scouting out talent for the high school team. And as much as Marley wanted to forge a doctor’s note to stave off embarrassment, it just wasn’t something her conscience would let her do.

As they stood in lines waiting for events to happen in Mrs. Ridell’s class Marley tried to listen to all of the whispered conversations. One, so she could see who she would want to be friends with if she ever got the courage. (Crystal and Anika had potential. Ashley and Emily did not.) And two, to hear what they were saying about her. But today, despite all of the elevated chatter due to Mrs. Ridell’s need to forego class control to make sure nobody drowned, she heard nothing but her own voices battling each other. At least she could keep her cover-up on until it was time to actually swim. With so many kids in her class, she hoped she could get in and out without being noticed.

Except there was one small problem. When it came her turn to dive into the water, instinct kicked in and she swam her laps like she was competing. So much for not being noticed. Most of her classmates struggled to complete a single length without resorting to the doggie paddle. So when she made her move to step out of the pool she saw Mrs. Ridell’s signature pink Converse shoes right next to her hand. She kept her head down trying to avoid eye contact as she continued her exit, but Mrs. Ridell gently put her hand under Marley’s chin to lift up her head.

“Marley Roberts, that was incredible. As soon as this gym class is over I am sending a note to Coach Gonzales. You will make a great addition to his team.”

Not really knowing what to say, she said, “Thank you.” Then rushed to where she’d left her cover-up, but she slowed down when she heard clapping. And then Crystal shouted, “Way to go Marley!”

They were clapping for her. Marley smiled. Those old feelings from the prior swim meet competitions, for that matter, from her prior life, returned - when she felt like she could pretty much do anything. Beliefs reinforced by her parents' constant encouragement.

In merely seconds, Marley lost the strength she gained from her swim and the class’s reaction to it. Thinking about what used to be weakened her. She wanted life to go back to normal, but she knew that would never happen. What she did know, however, is that she belonged in the water. No matter what anyone said.

514 words
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