Reluctantly, he handed over the key. … He had been dreading that moment for a while now, knew he would not be able to avoid it. Everyone had told him so; everyone had warned him it would happen. And now, the last thing he wanted to face, were all those same people who would be so *bloody voraciously* happy to tell him “I told you so, didn’t I?”
I told you so, I told you so, so what? Jane Austen too had been told so! So had Frank Sinatra! So what!?
The branches outside the window were whipping back and forth in the gale. He was sitting on a chair, holding his head between his hands, covering his ears, his eyes shut tight, so as not to hear them, so as not to see their fake smug smiles. Fake smiles, fake friends, fake life. He was not bitter. At least, he did not think he was. Was he bitter? He knew the day would come. He had never needed the others to tell him so. He had known all along. He did not regret anything. He would do it all over again if only he could. That actually was a thought that comforted him. Maybe it was possible; maybe he could start all over again, and again, and again.
He got up suddenly. He had not planned it. He had not thought about it. It felt as if his body had decided to move without bothering to inform his brains first. The result was: tangled legs, heels propelled across the room, and a twisted body trying to ward off the fall.
All the while, she stood there watching him. She did not talk. She just stood and stared at him. She saw him crumble, she saw him sink in his chair, she saw him jump up and tumble to the ground. She watched him as he walked across the lawn, under dark and inauspicious skies. The wind had not abated. The branches of the tree were doing their sombre dance, while the bats shrieked and swirled past them. She thought she had seen some rain drops falling from the sky. She watched his step. It seemed focused, as if he had collected himself as if he knew exactly what he was doing, where he was going. She stepped outside. She now felt the drops wetting her hair, washing her face. She thought about going after him but chased the idea minutes before it had time to properly form in her head. What good would it be anyway? She needn’t stay there. She could go back inside. She did not have to wait in the rain, did she? But the truth was: she could not move. She was scotched to the floor and could not for the life of her stop staring at him. She saw him undress. He took out his T-shirt first and folded it neatly on the lounge chair by the pool. He then proceeded to get rid of his trousers, he almost fell again but managed in extremis to catch the seat’s armrest and stabilize himself. Lastly he took out his flowery underwear. He had his back to her. She shocked herself by thinking that it was a pity he had his back to her that she would not have minded seeing his instrument. She had never seen it. She had felt it. Once. A very long time ago. He jumped in. She watched his body sink in the water. It did not matter anymore. Now that her secret was out, she would have to deal with it.
He was swimming. The shock of the water had woken him up. He did a few more lengths, stroke, and then got out of the pool. He was naked. It was pouring. He knew she was watching him. He knew she had always lusted after him. He did not try to hide anything. He had nothing left anyway. He knew this was the beginning, the end. He took the key out of the pocket of his soaked trousers, and walked up to her, key holder in his hand, the key dangling beneath it.
She had not moved an inch. She just stood there, petrified. She knew he knew. She watched him approach, and present himself in front of her his hand outstretched. She knew what he held in his hand, only she was no longer sure she wanted it. She had won. He had lost. She felt shame and lust. He felt proud and stood tall. He knew the ball was back in his camp. He knew but did not act upon it, and reluctantly, he handed over the key.
Alex S David
(May 21st, 2013)