Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just Before You Start

Again, I was in the bathroom, hiding in a stall, listening to the high pitched nerve-induced chatter going on around me. I wanted everyone to leave so I could come out and do what I needed to do without embarrassment. Finally it grew quiet and I snuck shivering to the sinks, pulling the giant bottle of Kaopectate out of my duffle. I took several big slugs then stowed the bottle and rinsed my mouth out. I’d done this so often it no longer tasted bad to me, just chalky and familiar. More importantly, necessary. Without it I had no belief that I could do what I needed to do without being horribly sick.

Outside I tried to calm my pounding heart and shaking hands as girls walked by, shouting to each other and chanting. I hung back, making small movements of my neck and shoulders while jogging in place. Moments later it was my turn and I went into the steamy crowded room, found my place, and waited for the summons.

“Swimmers up!”

Slowly I climbed the starting block. Now there was only my hammering heart and the fear curled in my belly. Eyes closed, I breathed in the welcoming chlorine smell of the pool. “Swimmers take your mark”, bending forward with fingers tightly curled around the bottom of the stand. Then flying, sleek and straight, skimming the water’s surface before beginning to shred it with my arms and legs. I didn’t know what went on around me. My head stayed down, eyes focused on the bottom of the pool. No breath until coming out of the first 25 yards and then only when lungs burned. Now it was the water that churned and my mind was blissfully silent, the fear gone. Now it was good. Now it was easy.



This piece is in response to a RemembeRED prompt: Stephen King says “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

Write a memoir post – first-person and true – inspired by that statement. Word limit is 300.

6 comments:

Patricia Iles said...

OOOooo...competition! That is a great choice for a prompt like this one. Terrific job. You described that feeling so very well.

Ironically: you commented on my post that you don't hunt. I don't swim. I never learned how!

Great post. Thanks for sharing!

Trish in AZ

BalancingMama (Julie) said...

Ah yes, the stomach-churning feeling before a big event. You described this so vividly.

Mihee said...

Fleshed out and touchable. So real. Loved it!

Galit Breen said...

You so captured that stomach-aching excitement before a Big Event- perfectly!

I like that you sprinkled sensory details here and there- the "Swimmers up" and the smell of chlorine- perfect!

Cheryl said...

Ah, the nerves. Glad you found a way to conquer them. It's the build-up to the competition that's always the worst, isn't it?

Britta said...

Wonderful atmosphere! Tight - and one could almost smell the water. Thank you for that!
And it is true: the biggest effort is: getting in motion. My maxime is that I often do not ask myself if I "feel" like it - I jump - and then motivation follows :-)

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