Excerpts from Second Chapter of “Swimming”

I feel that I can actually do it this time, that I can finally finish what I’ve started. Nanowrimo is helping me think of more ideas, beginning to see the possibilities I hadn’t before considered.

Here’s a few more excerpts. I am going to try to update about my progress by periodically posting  tidbits of my writing.

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“Hey,” David said briskly. I shoved my American Literature book and assignment in my locker to be pushed aside and forgotten another day.

“Hey yourself.” The poor boy looked positively panic-stricken.

“I’m going to crack.”

“No you’re not. You’ll be fine.” I patted his shoulder encouragingly.

David shook his head, almost violently. “No. Seriously, I feel like I’m going to physically cave in on myself from all the guilt I’m feeling. I think I’m going to vomit, or pass out, or…both.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t be so dramatic.”

He glared. “How can you be so calm about all this? Doesn’t it bother you?”

I suddenly felt exhausted.  “Of course it does. But this is not the time to fold under pressure. Just focus; try to stay below the radar.”

“I guess I’m just not a master of deception.”

“I guess it’s just all my theatre training.”

David smiled. “Way to use my words against me.”

“You know, you should be renamed Switzerland.” Carmen’s voice nearly made me jump out of my skin. I swallowed.

“Why is that?”

“Because you’ve been more silent (than they were during the Cold War).”

“Something you picked up in European history?”

“You know I take American.” Carmen leaned against my locker. A sign of dominance.  “It’s the only history that counts.”

“Says the Latina American.”

“I like to focus more on the American part.” She smiled. “Besides, I don’t see you scrambling to get into Mr. Morris’s prestigious African American studies class.”

“Not my thing.” Silence.

“What is with you?”

“Nothing.”

Carmen sighed.  “Something is wrong-you’ve been off since yesterday.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” David and I shared a meaningful look.

“Excellent. The super twins are in cahoots together. Surprise, surprise.”

“Carmen you’re overreacting.”

“Didn’t know asking for honesty was such an outlandish request.”

“I’m trying to be honest with you, “I replied, searching for some sort of lie. “I just don’t see why it matters.” David shuffled uncomfortably.

“If it doesn’t matter, why don’t you just tell me?”

“There’s nothing to tell.”

Carmen glared at David. “He’s as bad of a liar as you.”

Ridiculously, I felt rather offended. Guess acting class didn’t prepare me for the role of (conniving best friend)

“I was with David.”

Carmen opened her mouth. Started. Stopped. Restarted. “With David?”

“Yeah, she was watching me practice,” David chimed in too neatly, almost prepackaged.

“Wow.” Carmen smiled, hard. “Just…wow.”

I sighed. “Look, I’ve told you where I was and I don’t know what else you want from me. You’re being ridiculous.”

“Thanks friend.”

“No, I mean it.” my (deadpan) veneer was beginning to crack. “I don’t need this.”

“And I don’t need this. You would think you could at least do me the courtesy of giving me a straight answer.”

“And you would think you could at least do me the courtesy of fucking dropping it!” Now I was overreacting. Another silence. David cleared his throat. I swallowed again, feeling like the living embodiment of the infamous elephant in the room.

“Forget it.” Carmen shrugged, as if to appear indifferent. “Its dropped.”

The bell rang, saving us all from the (pit of awkwardness I had created). Carmen gave me the briefest of smiles before scurrying off, no explanation given.

I sighed and leaned against my locker. I could feel David’s eyes resting on my face. “So much for keeping a low profile, huh?”

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I began to feel my body move, and for a moment, I believed that the sky had decided to take me captive-a welcome kidnapping. Then I realized I was moving backwards, sinking, an arm wrapping around me, its hand, cold and frantic, pressing firmly against my lips. It happened so quickly I did not know how to react, and all I could do was survey my new surroundings with anxious eyes-dark and leafy on all sides. “Shh! Don’t scream.” This warning seemed rather delayed and unnecessary. “I’m going to uncover your mouth, but don’t scream.” I watched as the hand slowly moved from face, trembling from fear rather than the cold. Neither the hand nor its possessor needed to worry about me screaming-drawing attention was the last thing I wanted to do.

“Abigail!” David’s footsteps quickly drew near, and I watched as his face came into view and his eyes widened with unabashed (surprise).

“Eric.” The name seemed to slip out of him, like (helium) out of a hot air balloon, as if his slender throat had been punctured by an unexpected and (penetrative) shard of (truth, reality). The figure standing behind me moved towards David and took him into a deep embrace. David’s eyes maintained their expression as his arms accepted the gesture.

“David, it’s so good to see you.” Eric pulled away, quickly, as if embarrassed by his momentary show of affection. He glanced at me. “And you too Abby.”

“I could tell from the way you pulled me into the bushes. Thankfully for you, I don’t scare easily.”

Eric half-smiled. “Well, I have a lot to be thankful for-I owe you a lot.”

I nodded, feeling mildly embarrassed myself. “I can’t thank you enough for keeping quiet about all this.”

“Well, you know what they say-loose lips sink ships.” Eric laughed, a little too loudly.

“So, how have you been holding up?”

I turned towards David, whose face was still frozen in an expression of tortured confusion. Eric’s inquiry appeared to do very little to shake him out of his stupor. I cleared my throat.

“We’ve been fine,” I responded. David nodded vaguely in agreement.

“Good to hear.” Pause. “Anything yet? Anything about me?”

I smirked and hoped that Eric didn’t see. “Its only been about two days.”

“But soon…soon it’s going to get a lot more intense.” David’s voice startled us both. “A lot more talk-more reenactments of the Titanic than you can handle.”

Eric laughed, a little more naturally. “I guess you’re right.” Although there was mirth in his voice, his eyes were dim and cold. Before I had a chance to think, I heard myself saying, “Why don’t you just stay with us?”

Both David and Eric stared at me in disbelief.  “Really? Are you sure?”

“Yes. I mean, as long as we’re careful, we should be fine. Right?”

The question was definitely rhetorical.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

“So…what now?” At first, I wasn’t sure if Eric heard me since he continued to suck on his cigarette, expelling smoke in tight ringlets. After a few moments, Eric finally sighed and shrugged.

“Don’t know really, lay low I guess.” He smiled, cool and collected, then took another puff. “I was hoping you could shed some light on the situation.”

I squirmed nervously, wringing my hands like a seven year old facing detention. “Me? I-I don’t know anything.”

Eric’s eyes widened. “You don’t remember anything? How the hell is that possible?”

I swallowed and looked towards the floor. “You were there. You know how messed up I was.”

“Yeah, but I had hoped by now you would have experienced some sort of memory resurgence. You honestly don’t remember anything?”

“No,” I responded defensively. “I had hoped you could fill in some of the blanks.”

Eric takes a long deep sigh before speaking. “All I know is that Trevor is definitely an ass.”

Both David and I laugh uncomfortably. “Can’t dispute you there.”

Then Eric’s face became intensely serious. “I wish I could help fill in the blanks for you, but by the time I got there…well, the deed was done.”

I felt suddenly ill. I had to clamp my lips tightly together to prevent involuntary vomiting. My whole body was trembling and I feared I might pass out right there on the hard, dusty, concrete floor of our junk shack. David instinctively put his arm around me, as if sensing my imminent collapse. If Eric didn’t know what happened, then we were in far deeper trouble than I initially imagined.

“But the heat really is on me. Nobody suspects you guys know anything. Not the super twins.”

I was growing weary of that phrase. “We’re not super, or special, or-or, anything really.” I glanced at David who gave me a half-hearted smile meant to reassure. I gripped him tighter for support. “We’re just…confused.”

Eric nodded, breathing out smoke long and slow. “That makes three of us.” Then his face suddenly brightened, his deep brown eyes twinkling mischievously. “Why so glum? This is a beginning of adventure!” He gave the cot a firm bounce.  “Who knows, I might even stay around for a while.”

His smile was intended to amuse. I feared I might upchuck.

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