Flash Fiction inspired by a story published in USA Today
“Push,” she thought. “Push. The fatigue is only in your mind.
She touched the wall as her head shot out of the water, took in a deep breath of chlorinated air, and looked at the clock on the wall. The big red hand was rapidly approaching the top and she got ready to push herself again to the other side of the pool.
“Go,” she thought, as the red hand clicked over the 60 second mark at the top of the clock. “Don’t stop. Kick, kick, kick. Breathe. Pull, pull, pull, breathe. Push, push.”
She reached the wall at the other side of the pool, spun around, and pushed off the smooth and slippery tiles beneath the clear blue waves. The red hand was making its way toward the top again and when she reached the other side of the pool she had just enough time to raise her head, force a breath, and watch the red line pass-by the 60 second mark.
“Come on,” she said. “Push. This is easy.”
She was the only person left in the pool. Her team was showering in the locker room, satisfied with their morning workout, but she had opted for a few more laps. It was early in the season and she was coming off of a knee injury. Her body had healed but her lungs still weren’t ready for competition. They leaked too quickly and hurt too easily and when she pushed off the wall one final time she told herself that she was capable of more.
“Come on,” she said. “Faster. Harder. Push. Push. Push.”
She dug her hands into the water and dragged her body toward the other edge of the pool. Her arms were tired and her lungs were straining and when she spun around and kicked off the wall she had a hard time figuring out what end was up.
Her vision blurred and her empty lungs forced her mouth to open to take in whatever oxygen it could find.
She choked. She struggled. Her body shut down and started to shake as one last thought floated through her mind.
“Push,” she thought. “One more pull to the surface. One more. Kick. Move. Push.”
They found her that afternoon floating on her stomach in the middle of the pool. An ambulance was called and her coach called the team into his office. They hugged and cried and he told them that practices were canceled for the foreseeable future.
“She was an amazing kid,” he said. “I’ve never seen someone work so hard in my life.”
Flash Fiction inspired by a story published in USA Today: An 18-year-old freshman on Northern Michigan University’s varsity women’s soccer team who drowned was alone in a pool when she was discovered after a team workout, school officials said Monday.