Alive

Jurassic Coast, Climbing, Sea

Rick couldn’t believe he was doing this, clinging to the side of the cliff like a limpet whilst the sea turned stormy below him. Taking a deep breath, he reached up and felt rock cutting into his hand through his gloves. Gritting his teeth, he pulled himself up and started to climb again.

Suddenly his hand hit empty space. Panic rocketed through him and Rick quickly dropped his hand on to the next stone he could see. It give way, coming off the wall like chewing gum. It tumbled from his hand and fall down into the sea. He twisted to see it go and watched as a small plume of spray rose then vanished under a large wave.

Rick scrambled for another strong hold. Found one and pressed himself against the cliff face. He breathed in sea salt soaked stones, which reminded him of the taste of dried seaweed. He shut his eyes and from somewhere deep inside of himself found the will to go on.

He reached up again, felt the top of the cliff under his fingers and began pulling himself over. Grunting loudly, Rick reached the top and came to rest on his knees. Dragging in deep breaths, he twisted around and sat down. His feet dangled over the edge and he looked across the sea.

The waves were raging now in a mix of inky greens, blues and creams. They crashed loudly against the bottom of the cliffs, blocking all other sounds. Rick looked at the sky, which was as dark as a fresh bruise then he felt water drops against his face.

He laughed, the sound carried and echoed around him.

The rain huddled down, soaking him straight through and cleaning him of all the rock dust. Out across the now tempest ocean, the thunder rumbled.  Rick laughed harder, loving the feel the cold rain against his skin and feeling truly alive for the first time in ages.

The Swimmers

The early morning swim was getting underway. Dan, stepping from the changing room, looked out across the swimming pool. There were only two men in and they were both in the slow lane. He didn’t think he’d seen the men here before. They both, he noticed, looked alike with their going grey hair and blue trunks. Across from them, Dan spotted two life guards – a man and a woman- both wearing red t-shirts and in deep conversation.

Dan walked to the ladder and began climbing in. He braced himself for the chill of the water, but it wasn’t enough and as his feet broke the surface, he shivered. Getting the rest of the way in, he took deep breaths and jumped up and down. Water splashed against his shoulders and face, making the chill deeper.

He ducked under briefly, rose and shook the water from his hair. He brushed it back and set off on his first lap. Ignoring the cold water, he lazy swam to the other end of the pool. When got there, he turned and saw the two men crossing over into the middle lane. Dan swam back, faster this time, feeling fully awake. He reached the end in half the time and paused to catch his breath.

Soft giggles caused his head to turn. He saw Nat and two old women walking out of the female changing room. Dan let his feet rest on the floor and watched Nat walked over. She had lost some of her weight in the four years they had been together, but had still kept the soft curving figure he had grown to love. He smiled at her and she smiled back, before turning around and stepping down the ladder.

Even though it was difficult for him to take his eyes off her, Dan glanced up as the male lifeguard walked over to the two old women and began talking to them. The waves of water made him turn back to Nat as she small stepped over to him.

‘It’s cold today!’

‘Yeah, it really is,’ Dan agreed.

‘You’d think they’d at least put a heater on, what with the weather outside and everything!’

Dan nodded, ‘once you get swimming you’ll be fine. Come on I’ll do your first length with you.’

Nat smiled her thanks and after a few moments, they set off together. The water rushed and swirled around them, almost caressing the couple as they swam side by side. Dan reached the other end before Nat did and quickly turned around.

‘See? It’s not so bad,’ he called out.

‘It’s bloody freezing!’ she responded as she reached for the pool’s edge.

Dan laughed then nodded towards the two old women who’d just got in and were warming up. ‘What were you talking to them about?’

‘Us,’ Nat replied simply.

‘And?’

‘Getting married. They weren’t going to let it drop. They’re like two chatty school girls!’

Dan shook his head as Nat broke into laughter.

‘Come on,’ she added and splashing him, set off again.

With a little growl, Dan chased after her. He caught her leg and heard Nat give a little squeal. Letting go, he swam passed her, being sure only to splash her a little. He raced her and reached the other side far in front of her. He turned, saw she was only half way and felt victory warming him. He shot a look at the two old ladies and they grumpily looked back at him.

‘Go in the fast lane, please,’ one of them said.

Dan nodded, tasting his victory going sour. He watched them set off. The water finding it’s way into the folds of their wrinkled skin and clinging on. He breathed out a sigh then felt Nat’s hand on his shoulder.

‘I’m fine now, go on,’ she said.

Dan bent his head for a quick kiss. Her lips tasted of the water, but he ignored that and embraced the softness of the kiss. He didn’t want it to end, but he felt Nat putting a hand on his chest and gently pushing him away.

‘Catch you after a few lengths?’ she asked as their lips separated.

‘Sure. Have fun,’ he replied then ducked the lane rope.

Nat watched him go, keeping her giggle to herself. They smiled at each other once more, then Dan swam away. Nat trailed after him, unable to stop smiling and even though the swimming pool water still felt cold, it couldn’t chill her warm glow.

The Swim Date

Dan still couldn’t believe he was doing this. He was sitting in the leisure centre’s small café, his hands almost touching the paper cup of coffee before him. Opposite sat the massive woman, or Nat. She too had coffee, but her hands were in her lap. Dan smiled at her and wondered where to take to the conversation too. He watched Nat fix her hair again.

‘Bit of an odd place to have a first date,’ Dan said.

‘It works for us though,’ Nat replied, ‘did you go swimming this morning?

‘No, I went to the gym. You?’

‘I slept in. Guess I was nervous about this.’

Dan nodded, he could relate to that.

‘So do you have a job?’ Nat asked.

‘I’m just a company monkey,’ he replied, ‘It’s a loans company and I just work in the office, making reports for the bosses. It’s dull. What about you?’

‘I’m a child minder and I work part time at a nursery.’

‘Never been my area, kids. All my friends seem to have ‘em, but its’ not really for me.’

‘I can’t have them,’ Nat burst out.

‘Oh, I’m sorry.’

‘It’s okay.’

Dan paused, letting the subject drop before he spoke again, ‘so what do you like doing?’

‘Many things,’ Nat replied, ‘I like arts and crafts, movies, music, books. What about you?’

‘Similar. I like sports and my car.’

Nat giggled.

Dan took a sip of his coffee and felt his tongue burning. This is bad, why did I agree to this?

Nat smoothed out a white t-shirt with butterflies and rested her arms on the top. She could feel this whole thing slipping apart. Well, she’d not really expected him to say yes, so… taking in a deep breath and letting it out, she thought about what else to say.

‘Do you have a car?’ Dan asked.

Nat shook her head, ‘I can drive though and I’m saving up for one. Do you have your own house?’

‘It’s a two bedroom apartment with a nice view over the city. What about you?’ Dan asked and braced himself for her reply.

‘I have a house.’

‘Oh?’

Dan’s mind suddenly began spinning with questions and possible answers.

‘I inherited it from my parents when they moved to Spain. I pay them rent,’ she added.

‘Cool. You live there alone?’

‘Yeah, but only for the last few months. My best friend moved out and went to live with her boyfriend in Rochdale. Before that there was my ex-fiancé…things really didn’t work out with him,’ Nat added.

Dan raised his eyebrows and looked puzzled at her. He took another sip of his coffee and waited for her to go on.

Nat sighed, ‘everything was perfect. But then he had a break down and went completely off the walls. He called it off and moved out. I’ve not seen or spoken to him in five years. I still have no idea what really happened. Guess I’ll never know.’

‘Sounds like a jerk,’ Dan mumbled.

Nat pursed her lips and stayed silent.

‘You know what? I’d like to meet you again. Maybe we should go out for a proper drink next time though?’

Nat smiled and nodded, ‘Sounds a good idea to me!’

The Swimmer

As Dan swam another length of the swimming pool his mind began to empty. It was too early for much cohering thinking and his body was running on auto. The splashing and movement of water had become a backdrop as well as the other people that surround him. For a fleeting moment, he prayed to have a pool all to himself then he shut his eyes and swam on.

Completing another lap, Dan grabbed the cool lip of the pool’s edge and let his feet rest on the bottom. He scrubbed his fading tan face and pushed back his short black hair. Bobbing in the lapping water, he watched a massive woman stepping down the ladder. He give thanks that she was in a covering swimming costume that safely hide much of her bum and belly.

He watched her get in and some of the water escaping out as she did so. Her boobs were so huge his eyes couldn’t help but be guided towards them. She turned and smiled at him. He quickly, smiled back then twisted away. Had she seen him staring? He couldn’t tell. He looked across slyly and saw her start swimming away using the frog technique.

He grinned and leaving her be, looked around at the other swimmers whilst he caught his breath back. The only other person in his lane was a very attractive young woman. Her blonde hair was tied back and she had on a sports swimming suit. Dan admired her, but had overheard that she was married.

In the fast lane to his left, two old timers were racing it out. Perhaps they had both been swimming champions and now, still addicted, they came every other morning to battle it out. The problem was, Dan always noted, that they looked like shrivelled up conkers in the water. With that image in mind, he couldn’t take them seriously.

In the slow line to his right alongside the massive woman, were a withered granny, a fat twenty-something man and a middle-aged woman. Dan watched them all swimming in the large oval shape that the pool signs demanded. He tried to switch his mind off again, but now it was too wake and couldn’t help but think dirty thoughts.

Shoving them away, he took a deep breath and got swimming again. As the water raged around him, he thought about the presentation he was giving at the boss’s meeting today. Had he made it interesting enough? It was bursting with facts that was for sure! He swam another few lengths then did a last slower one.

Ducking under the lane rope, he headed for the ladder when a shy female voice called to him.

Dan turned expecting to see the sporty woman or the middle-aged one, since the voice was clear not old. Instead, though the massive woman was standing behind him.

‘Yes?’ he asked politely.

‘I was just wondering if you’d like to have a drink with me sometime,’ she said softly.

Dan had to lean into catch half of the words as she seemed so quiet, ‘Well….Erm…’

‘Not today of course,’ she spluttered and looked at the water.

Dan saw her cheeks blushing. He shot a look at her heavy chest, ‘Sure. Why not.’

‘Thanks. See you soon,’ she rushed and went back to swimming.

Shaking his head, Dan got out of the pool and went to get dressed. Was he crazy? Maybe…