Sorry for not posting for a long time, i was thinking of how i was gonna do this. Well, enjoy! Its kinda long, but i liked doing it.
The final stretch. You can do this, Raina! Hurry come on! They're passing you! I urged myself, trying to swim faster, but i was in max speed. It was the last lap of the IM, and i was pulling ahead. Today was the meet. Riverdale and Farlow swimmers surrounded me in the other lanes. I was getting tired, my arms started to slap the water sloppily. No! Snap out of it, Raina! Sloppy doesn't get you anywhere, I scolded my self. I counted: 1 stroke, 2 stroke, 3 stroke, breath. 1 stroke, 2 stroke, 3 stroke, breath. 1 stroke, 2 stroke, 3 stroke, breath. I risked looking to my left when i took my breath, i was in the last lane, and i was ahead of everybody, Yes! No wait, that girl is just barely ahead. I'll pull up later, i started thinking, during the final lap. No! It IS the final lap, we have to do it NOW. No...more...energy...Man, my thighs are gonna kill me after this. Faster...there's the wall! Who knew an IM could take so much energy out of a person? Oh,yeah. Me. I should've practiced more. Why didn't I? 5 minutes more wouldn't kill me! My last stroke hit the wall, and I stopped, exhausted. The water was roughly 6 feet deep, so i obviously couldn't have stood, because i'm barely 5'5". I took off my grey goggles, which was splattered with mini water droplets, and placed it on the top of the wall as the rest of the swimmers started coming in.
I touched the wall a second after the girl. She already had her cap off, and was shaking her hair of water as they started to come in seconds after us. The whistle shrieked, signaling us to step out. I heaved myself out of the swimming pool, dripping water on the concrete. Riverdale's coach motioned us to come over to him on the side, so the other swimmers can come in.
"That was good, that was good, you can relax over there, off to the side. Your bags are being kept there." He pointed to a sheltered wooden shed picnic area, and we all went there, not talking to each other. Well, the swimmers that were in the same school were, but the other swimmers who were in the same school as me, Leah and Marley, don't talk to me. Actually, i don't think i've ever struck up a conversation with any of the other swimmers. And they haven't either. Maybe its time... So by now you're probably wondering why the heck i'm here if my mom didn't let me go. Well, i sneaked Avery and Austin into the house after the party thing, and i came with. Then when my mom found out, she was super pissed. And she still didn't let me go, despite how much i argued. so eventually i made the decision to sneak out because,well, my team needs me. And anyone wouldn't let their team down.
I grab my bag and my orange Gatorade, and sit next to Leah, who was sitting alone in the corner of one of the wooden tables, putting her Blackberry away. She looked up at me, surprised when i sat next to her.
I placed my bag next to hers, and took a sip of my Gatorade before talking. "So, how'd,um, you think you did?"
"I think i did okay, 4th isn't bad, but not the best." She replied, taking a gulp of her water.
It was obvious she was not at all happy of her place, despite her reply. "I think you did great,um, you were so ahead of the 5th place girl, and literally head to head with the 3rd. I think it was a Farlow," i commented, thinking of 3rd place's dark red cap, the color of the Farlow team.
Leah rolled her eyes. "Yup, Farlow all right. I swear no one can beat them," she gave me a side-longs glance. "Except for you, of course."
I blushed. "Um, not really. 1st place was a Farlow."
"But hey, you beat 2 of them!" True. There are 9 swimmers total, and 3 for each school.
"Well, yeah, b-"
"You know, you're pretty fast for a freshman. When'd you start?" She asked, wiping her springy brown hair, and trying to keep it away from her caramel colored face.
"I've been swimming for 3 years, since i joined middle school i think."
Leah smiled. "Cool. Oh my gosh i just realized, this is the first time i've ever talked to you!"
"I guess i've never introduced myself. I'm Leah Lindsey, a sophomore soon to be junior in August!"
"Nice to meet you, Leah Lindsey, future junior. I'm Raina West, soon to be sophomore." We shake hands, and giggle. My 3rd friend, in only 2 weeks! I'm on a roll here! Then, we heard someone's voice. We looked at each other, surprised, and went closer to take a look.
It was that Farlow dude, Nate Springfield. He stood tall and lean with olive skin and short black hair, next to a wheelchair. I looked a bit closer to see who it was, and gasped. Connor Lee.
"Really, Connor? The day of my challenge to you, and you just...had an 'accident'? How pathetic," Nate scoffed. How dare he say that? Connor got in a car accident, and Nate just dismisses that as pathetic? Now i hate this guy. "I think you're just too chicken to face me again," he said, smirking with his arms crossed over his chest.
"...Connor?" I said, moving closer. There was pin-drop silence as everybody shifted their stares to me.
Connor smiled widely at me. He was in a wheelchair, with cargo shorts and an orange T-shirt that supported our school swim team. His right leg was in a orange cast, up to his knee, and his pretty girlfriend Cassie Oliver next to him. "There you are, you were great, you know."
Cassie grinned at me, her short, curly dull, auburn hair swinging a little. "You were. Its surprising you're only like, 14!" Before we go any further, i'm just saying that before you get any ideas, i'm NOT jealous of Cassie! She's is awesome, she's actually the person who introduced me to the swim team, since her ultimate rival (well, back then) Connor was on it, and wanted me to kick his butt.
"15, even though i don't look like it. And thanks!" I smiled hesitantly, and continued. "But, Connor...what happened?"
Cassie started to glare at him, and then i realized he never told her. "Yeah, Connor. Tell us what happened." We tried to ignore Nate's growing smirk, and tapping foot.
He started to scratch behind his ear sheepishly. "Um...well, i was on the road, and like the ambulance was coming so-as any good driver would do- I pulled over to the side to let it pass. But what i didn't know was there was a car on my right pulling over too, but pulling over to the LEFT, as in the opposite direction. And...yeah. The rest is pretty self-explanatory," he finished, pointing to his leg.
"Oh." Cassie and I said at the same time, but she continued. "Well, that guy's an idiot. Actually, you're an idiot too. If the ambulance was coming on the right, why would you pull over on that side?"
"Thats the thing!" He exclaimed. "It didn't! It pulled over on the LEFT side! So really, that guy's the only idiot here. He was drunk too, i think."
Cassie rolled her eyes, but she still looked worried. "At least you're okay."
"This is fine and touching, but i'm still wondering why Connor hear is spilling lies after lies."
Cassie stepped forward, green eyes blazing. "Listen you knucklehead. Connor isn't lying. So leave him alone. He can compete with you later!"
"Just because he's your boyfriend, doesn't mean you have to listen to him. You could listen to me instead. Obviously i'm way more attractive."
"Oh shut your snobby mouth up."
"Wanna do it for me?"
"GLAD TO!" But before she could slap him in the face (which i kinda wished would happen), Connor stuck out an arm.
"Hold up, Cass. Nate, there's a way for you to race with me. Hey Raina...would you like to race in my name?"
I couldn't believe my ears."M-me?"
"Yeah, i think you could do it."
"Okay, there is NO way i'm racing with a skinny girl like her! I want a worthy opponent," Nate said, crossing his arms.
Cassie rolled her eyes. "Um, does this LOOK like the Renaissance to you? And you'd be surprised at her skill."
"Her skill. Of what, tying shoelaces?"
That's it, i thought to myself angrily. I can't let people defend me like this. I've got to stand up for myself. "Listen up, pretty boy." Everyone jerked up in surprise, and looked at me. Even Nate. "You think you can beat me? That's a lie."
Cassie and Connor grinned. Nate snorted, but looked a little nervous, if i can read emotions as well as i think i can. "Right, okay."
I pretended to look bored. "Are we gonna race or not?"
Nate now looked amused. "Okay, sure. But if i beat her, Connor, that means i'm the best swimmer in this county."
"Thank you for restating my idea."
"Let's get this over with, then. I've already won, judging her size," Nate scoffed, looking at my small, lithe body in amusement. I gritted my teeth, and said nothing. For once, I want to show this guy who's boss. Swimmer's style. The previous race swimmers got out eagerly, and stood off to the side, wanting to see this race. Just then i realized what I got myself into. Could I beat Nate? Probably not. This is the guy who did an under a minute breastroke! Why do i do this to myself? First Ryan, now this? I'll be the laughingstock of all of the schools! Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a certain boy star watching me from a corner, with a handsome grin on his face. He gave me a thumbs-up. I looked away, smiling.
Farlow's coach walked up to us. "Springfield, lane 1, other girl, lane 2. Whats it going to be?"
Nate sneered. "Let the lady choose."
Instead of snapping back, i jutted my chin out, and said, "Let's make this quick. 100m. Freestyle." the coach nodded, while Nate chuckled.
"Oh. now you're REALLY going down. Freestyle just happens to be my strongest stroke." I ignored him and his bragging ways, and instead I snapped on my raised an eyebrow and smirked again. I swear that smirk is going to be implanted on his face for the rest of his life if he keeps doing that. We took our place on the diving pads on the top of the lane. I put on my swim cap.
"On your marks...Get set...GOOO!" The whistle screamed, and I made a clean dive for the water.
My adrenaline was pumping like crazy. I felt full of life. Stroke one, stroke 2, stroke 3, breath. I was clad in water, as I dashed for the other side. I felt the water underneath get colder as it got deeper and deeper. The darkness soon surrounded me, but i payed it no attention. I risked looking at Nate, who was already starting on his way back, with a flawless flip-turn. He gave me a swaggered wink as he passed me reach the wall. Okay, that's it. I need to step up my game.
Something inside me snapped, and before I knew it, my flip-turn was done, and I was whizzing to catch up with Nate. I was panting like crazy, and my arms felt like my overlarge math textbook, but i didn't care. I needed to show Nate his place. My adrenaline was my energy. It buzzed inside me constantly, it made my heart beat, and my mind focused. My kicks became more powerful, my arms more poised and graceful. I dared to look at Nate, but this time it was me who smirked. He looked angry, but easily pulled up.
I could hear the audience cheer us on, and it really brightened me to hear Leah's voice above them all. Stroke, stroke, stroke! Quick breath, go down! Stroke, stroke, stroke! I caught up with Nate finally, who looked surprised. I saw one of the lines on the pool floor, signaling the nearing wall. I was a blur. Both of us were a blur. The finish was in sight. As i took a breath, Nate and I were literally head-to-head. The wall was coming. I had an idea. I made a powerful kick, and my right arm was outstretched as I pushed forward. It slapped the wall. I stopped, and leaned against the wall for support. I was exhilarated. My breaths came out sharp, and i was panting, with water dripping down my face. I looked over to my right, and saw Nate over there, grinning triumphantly.
My heart sunk...I guess i didn't win. No...I let down Connor, and Cassie, and Ryan. Why couldn't have I gone a bit faster?! It wouldn't hurt! Sure, i was already wayy past max speed, but i was supposed to give Nate a taste of his own medicine. And I got his medicine instead. I felt like hiding in a ball in a corner, or become invisible. Now i'll be known as the girl who had to much pride in her skills. An egomaniac.
I hoisted myself out of the pool slowly, my arms trembling visibly at my sides. I was so exhausted. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nate chuckling, probably laughing at me. Keeping my eyes down, I took off my goggles and cap, letting my brown locks down.
"Whoa whoa, where are you going?" Cassie said, her voice breaking my thoughts.
"To get my bag."
"Because I need to dry up...?"
Her eyes widened incredously. "Really? Don't you want to hear the scores officially?"
"What do you mean, officially?"
As if on cue, the announcer's voice rang out. "And for the one on one 100m free race, the winner is..."
"...Nate Springfield!" My heart sunk even more. Then a second later i realized somebody whispered it into my ear, i turned around and saw a grinning Ryan.
"God you scared me!"
Ryan beamed even more.
"And I repeat, the winner is...RAINA WEST!" I looked around. They had to be joking. Ryan gave me a hug, and so did Cassie, after giving me the 'wink', gesturing with her eyes to Ryan. We walked back to Connor, who I gave a high-5. The entire time he had the "I-told-you-so" grin on his face. But Nate didn't look so happy. Instead of doing the sportive thing and shaking hands or not doing anything at all, he marched right up to me.
"She's a cheater! She cheated, i'm sure! There's no way a girl like her could beat me." He fumed angrily, his eyes had a wild look in them.
I don't know where I got the courage, but I walked right up to him, and despite the 1 foot height difference. "There is a way. And guess what? You just experienced it. Enjoy!"
His face contorted with rage, and threw his arms up in rage. "Are you seriously gonna listen to her? A freshman? Beat me, a junior? Are you honestly believing this crap?"
Ryan stepped in front of me, and looked at Nate square in the eye. "Yes, we are. And it's not crap. It's called life. Get used to it."
I swear pretty much of the girls here gasped when they saw Ryan. Nate's eyes widened when they saw him.
Then the most surprising thing happened. Farlow's coach came up to us, and put a hand on Nate's arm. "Back down, Springfield. Let's go. NOW." Nate looked like he was about to argue with him, but then there was some respect left in there for his coach, so he followed him out, but not without glaring daggers at me.
People kept congratulating me for beating him, but eventually they all left after 10 minutes, for the award ceremony in the office. Connor and Cassie had to go, but not without saying good-bye. Soon it was just Ryan and I. Well a frazzled looking Ryan of all the girls that showed up to get an autograph. I had already put on over my swimsuit a blue tank top, and a pair of brown shorts.
I turned toward him. "So...not to sound mean or anything, but why are you here?"
"Can't I watch Raina West's swim meet without having a reason?"
He sighed. "Okay, fine. I came because somehow your grandmother contacted me-i don't even know how she has our number- and wanted to meet with you and me immediately."
"Grammy?" I thought back to the small old lady, with laugh lines, and warm brown eyes. Why did she want to talk to us, especially Ryan?
"Yep. We should go now, or she'll get mad or something." He waited for me to collect my awards privately, and we headed over to his dark blue Ferrari.
"Thanks," He sat in the driver's seat, while I placed my bag in the back, and I sat in the front, just like I did with Connor, well, before the accident. As he started up the car, he asked, "Do you have any idea why your grandma wants us?"
"No idea. I'm just as surprised as you are." I leaned back and relaxed, getting a sip of my Gatorade.
He drove out of the parking lot, and said, "Why do I have a suspicion that it has to do with Hawk?"
"Trust me, you're not the only one." I had completely forgot about Hawk, too busy thinking of swimming.
"Let's go find out, then."