As Close To Tristan As I Can Get.
Ok. I know I’m a vampire. I am almost invincible. Hard skin. Quick reflexes. Super speed. Magnified Hearing. Hot and cold. Light and Dark. High and Low. No problem, Simple. But water. Drowning, choking. Water filling your lungs. No, not water. I’ve never liked it since I was dropped in a pool against my own will by my own father. My own father almost killed me. I’d never learnt to swim, even to this day. The way it dragged me down when I ran out of energy to stay afloat. Stung my eyes. Filled my mouth. Pushed its way down my throat. Deeper and deeper into the darkness. More water down my throat. Try to breath. Push the water out. No chance. I’m going to die… But I didn’t. The neighbour saved me. While my good-for-nothing father stood over and watched me struggle. Drown. Tried and failed. Never again would I want to see his face.
So now I stand and watch the water. From a distance, just watching. I can smell it. See it. Taste it in the air. The air is thick with moisture. So I slip my shoes off and walk, bare foot, to the side of the pool. The floor is clammy so I curl my toes up. This is where Tristan sat that first day. It’s been a week and no sign of him around. So here I stand, looking like a freaked out idiot, watching water. How sad.
‘This is stupid, Harley.’ I mumble to myself.
‘I think differently.’ A soft breath brushed the back of my neck. Tristan. Great! Now he thinks I’m an idiot that watches water and talks to herself. He comes to the side and stands there watching with me. Just watching. It’s not really an awkward silence but he’s waiting for me to reply. Patient, I like that.
‘I… I don’t know how to... swim.’ It feels natural to tell him.
‘I can help.’ He murmured softly. And with that he took my hand and guided me down so that we were sat on the edge of the pool with our feet hanging in the water. Our hands are still entwined and it feels good. I feel like these hands were made for this. I swing my legs through the water and watch it move around my feet. We start talking about each other. What we like. What we dis-like. Just generally talking and finding about each other.
‘Want to take a dip?’ He asks softly. Even though we are fully dressed in shorts and t-shirts it seems so… normal. So natural to do this with Tristan. We’ve only ever talked once and that was the first day with Beth.
‘You’ll be here, right?’ I turn to look at him. This time his hair is dry but still with the same impact. Blonde hair, blue eyes. He squeezes my hand in reassurance and traces calming circle with his thumb.
‘I’m not going anywhere.’ The sincerity in his eyes shows and I know I can trust him. I take a deep breath and let him guide me into the water. It’s not too deep, coming up to my waist. I rest my free hand on the water and spread my fingers. It floats on top.
‘Want to take a walk?’ He asks.
‘Show me the way.’ I smile. He smiles back and it dazzles me. His whole face lights up with that one smile.
As we walk I tell him about my fear of the water and why I’m afraid of it. He listens and asks questions and generally seems curious as to why I am like I am.
‘I’ve been in water all my life. Ever since I was little I was always down at the beach or in a pool or in my paddling pool. I learnt to swim at a very young age. I just took to water like a fish. I have never been afraid of it; I’m just trying to imagine it.’ I could tell he was struggling. His eyebrows furrowed deep above his eyelashes and he bit down on his lip. I squeezed his hand and his eyes met mine. All signs of confusion melted away.
‘Teach me.’ I whispered. A smile gradually formed on his face as the sound of was like hearing you won the lottery. ‘Make the fear go away.’ I look deep into his eyes this time and he looks back. With what seems like admiration, longing and something else I’ve never seen before.
‘I can teach you to float on the water. It’s bliss.’
‘I won’t sink?’
‘I would never let you sink. Let me show you.’ He grinned and for the first time since we had got in he freed my hand and tipped his head back. I watched as he laid his head right back onto the water and his feet rose to the surface of the water. He was floating. Effortlessly. Now he was stood up and smiling at me with excitement. He loved the water.
‘It’s like floating. Just trust the water around you and relax. I’ll help you. Now, you are still dry. You can’t possible expect to stand in a pool, with me, and stay dry.’ He laughed and I laughed along. True laughing. Not fake. Real. He cupped his hands in the water and brought it above my head. He looked into my eyes for conformation that this was ok in which I responded with a shy smile, and quietly the water trickled from his hands to my head. I smiled and he smiled back. He did it again and once more until I was truly soaked.
‘Now, lay back and let the water lift your legs.’ And I did. I pushed my head right back and felt the water guide my legs to the surface. I tried to find something to grab with my hands, something to make sure I stay there, but I was met with another hand. I smiled and relaxed, realising now my legs stayed afloat and I was truly floating on water. Not drowning or sinking. Then I panicked and lost my focus. I knew I was going to sink now and I was more scared than ever. Not again. Please. But I didn’t. Quickly but surely a soft hand slide under the arch of my back and supported me. He wouldn’t let me sink, he promised. Instantly I relaxed against his touch and my legs reached the surface again. A smiled and turned to face him. He smiled the most beautiful and dazzling smile I’d ever seen. My smile widened in response and slow I can to stand up. I was so pleased with myself I was fit to burst.
‘I did it. I floated on water.’ I said with a triumphant smile.
‘You did.’ He whispered softly. He slowly slipped a strand of hair away from my face and continued to curve his hand around my face. I leaned into his touch and closed my eyes, enjoying the warmth. When I opened them I saw him looking at me with such… admiration. He leaned towards me and pressed his lips to my forehead. For a second I froze but then relaxed and let my feelings show. I leaned into him and his arms encircled me. He held his lips to my head and I could feel that same smile forming on this mouth. He took in a deep breath and rested his chin on the top of my head. We continued to stand like that for what seemed like an eternity of bliss until he led me off with my hand, safely, in his.