The girl knows she's being creepy, just walking behind the blonde girl, not saying anything. The athlete in front of her wouldn't listen if she called her name, anyway. For a second, she's just that, she's creepy and she knows it, and she doesn't care.
And when the blonde girl sits down, she goes to stand in front of her, and gets stuck for moments in the cruel execution of the green, green eyes staring right into her own; the ones that were completely lost and dead.
Forcing herself from breaking, she looks down, away for a second as if rehearsing it in her mind for the millionth time. "Gabby, I…umm…" the name forces itself back into her brain, and then she forces herself to take the glare. "Before I go, I just wanted to tell you that I… I had a great time rowing with you this year."
She almost beats herself up for saying so little, but the past ends up telling the rest of the story in instants. And suddenly the blonde's arms are out, openly, and the broken teenager before her hesitates to accept.
"Come on, it's okay." Gabby whispers knowingly, beckoning her forward.
In that moment, she forgets how to let go, she wishes she could fade away so she never had to physically leave the comfort of the girl's arms, but, lingering there, she knows that at some point it's over. She struggles trying to keep from falling apart right then and there.
"Are you coming back?"
"I don't know."
"Well, that's a start at least."
It was not the blonde who broke the hug, but instead the other girl, looking away immediately; she led herself in the other direction, not wanting for a moment to look back. Gabby. Check.
I'm Savannah McClendon. I am that girl, and this is the year I spent breaking myself.
I'd known Adrienne Daley for nearly a year, depending on what you believe the word 'known' means. The day I met her, I enjoyed her company. The day she joined crew, I hated her. It was understood from that point on that we would have a very complicated relationship.
The thing about Adrienne was she was so easy to dislike, it was nearly impossible hating her completely. She was controlling. She was overconfident. She's a bitch, and a traitor, and overly judgmental. But somehow, at some point, I ended up caring for her a great deal.
One day, I walked down and back up the docks with her during practice. We fought twice. That wasn't even the record.
Anyway, we had a mutual understanding- or misunderstanding- of our friendship. I trusted her, she trusted me. She hurt me, I hurt her back. I apologized; she tried to pretend nothing ever happened. It wasn't simple, but nothing worth wanting ever is.
The point at which I met her was also 'coincidentally' the point at which my life decided to suck.
Everybody knows to fall so hard you have to be on top first.
I knew it was luck, but sometimes, when such great things happen, the illusions are enough. And sometimes, you start believing it's real. Sometimes, I tricked myself into believing I was actually A boat material. See, in crew, the A boat is the best boat, and then the B boat is the second best, and so on. In all reality, I was just more experienced than everyone else. I learned that doesn't necessarily make you stronger, I just learned too late.
Our coach was named Chris. Everybody liked him. He was tall, and goofy looking. You could see the proudness in his eyes when he watched his rowers, and he just had that look. He was scared of spiders. He never left his house without a hat. His girlfriend's name was Shelby. He didn't like wearing his glasses around her. He had a silver Kia that we called "the toaster" because it did truly look like a toaster. He was relatable, and open, and everyone loved him.
…Except, eventually, me. I didn't look him in the eyes for half of that season.
Alex was my coach the season before, she took the inexperienced rowers. I liked Alex because she always said that I reminded her of herself when she was younger, and being like an excellent coach is always fun. She had bright, almost yellow hair that was quite clearly from a bottle, and she always wore more eye makeup than she needed to; more than a normal teenage wannabe, less than what would classify her as a scary raccoon.
The A boat in the beginning of the season was consisted of (me), Corrine, a shy, awkward, 5th season with a great technique, Valerie, a strikingly beautiful 6th season who was very nearly perfect at rowing, and Gabby, a 1st season who had no idea how very lucky she was.
The B boat wasn't as put together. There was Juliet, a confident 1st season 8th grader who was kind, and, as you could guess, a drama kid. She tried to keep it inside that she thought she deserved better than the B boat. Notice the tried. Then there was Adrienne, who really did deserve better. Avery, a 5th season who liked to pretend she was ghetto, and also, invincible with super strength. Lastly, Hope, a quiet and lanky 6th grader, 1st season.
The thing about Juliet was that, as a bit of a drama nerd myself, she was really easy to talk to, which was rather inconvenient for me. "You're a really big threat to my seat, you know." She laughed, as if I was kidding, as if she thought I was kidding. "I'm serious; you could be in my boat any second now." I just didn't know that I was telling the complete truth.
Two days later, all the rowers sat under the pavilion, as always, waiting to be told the same lineups as always, same boats, same oars. As Chris's turn to announce came up, all rowers became silent. "Today I'm going to have Corrine, Gabby, Valerie, and Juliet-" that wasn't me. "- in the swift with the Blue and Red oars."
"You mean the Spidermans?" why the hell wasn't that me?
"Yes, Corrine, the Spidermans."
This isn't permanent, is it? Chris, I should ask Chris, or umm…
"Savannah! Meet me after practice."