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Don’t be such a freaking wuss,” I scolded myself, dropping the towel and swiping at the sweat gathered underneath my blunt bangs. “I’m the only camper here.”
After peering in both directions to see if the coast was clear, I took a deep breath, and darted for the lake. When the water hit my toes, I almost stopped. It was still crisp and cold enough to set a chill deep in my bones. But I forced myself to press on. Casting a quick glance at the lily pads not far away, behind a frayed yellow rope boundary, I dove. Arcing my body over the lake, I sliced through the water with ease.
Though I didn’t swim often anymore, occasionally I would slip into the YMCA after my shift ended to do laps. Though my time wasn’t nearly as good as it’d been in my teens, my form was on point. I could tell by the way the water felt around my body. No drag, I thought before emerging. Still got it. Sort of.
I surfaced twenty feet from the beach, and drew a deep breath. Just like when I was a kid, the water numbed me enough to keep swimming, but not enough to cramp up. Treading myself in a circle, I observed the lily pad patch. The night after Jamie’s foot got caught in the weeds, everything between us changed. We’d become best friends. Not in the same way that Bree, April, and Rachael and I were. I didn’t have the urge to gossip and giggle with him. I had the urge to talk for hours about everything and nothing all at once. When he took a deep breath, it felt like my lungs filled, and when he laughed, I could feel my ribcage jostle.
Simply put, he became my everything. And damn it all to hell it was time to let him go, to wash him away as my arms sliced through the water. Since that was where everything between us started anyway.
I ducked back under the water and started to kick, propelling myself away from the rope divider. Those blasted lily pads hadn’t done anything for me. They bound me to the boy who eventually became the man who dumped me for having a bum uterus. If I thought they’d catch fire, I would’ve ignited the whole patch out of principal. But for now, all I could do was paddle away. With a burst of energy from deep within, I swam toward the dock in the butterfly, my weakest stroke, barely slowing down to draw a breath. My muscles burned in protest, but I kept swimming. Burning muscles and tight lungs felt infinitely better than an aching heart. After approximately twenty-three laps between the ropes and the dock, I finally breast-stroked my way back to shore.
Crawling back onto the beach, I pushed myself onto my feet, breathless and exhausted. I needed a nap and some food. Something fattening and bad for me. Sue’s barbeque ribs sounded better than a Thanksgiving feast. Tilting my head forward, I shook my hands through my hair, sending droplets onto the beach at my feet as I walked back to my towel. Maybe Sue wanted some help in the kitchen. All I needed were dry clothes, and then I’d wander to the mess hall to check in with her. When I reached the overgrown tree line, I bent down to retrieve it, and cracked my head on something solid.
“Ow! Mother f—”
Every hair on my body stood on end, and I stood bolt upright. “Jamie!?”
Kneeling in the brush by my towel, looking sweaty and angry as he hurriedly tied his shoe, was my ex-husband.