She entered the pool area with a scowl marring her flagging face. A shadow appeared to cling to her like a monkey on her back
. She crossed the cold cement quickly kicking off her dingy untied Reeboks and doffing her rumpled white robe
. She did not look like your typical svelte swimmer. She leaned more toward ample
. Privately, I gave her twenty laps, tops, before she gave out.
The darkness followed her into the illuminated water, wrapping itself firmly around her shoulders. She pressed her lips together tightly as she pushed off the wall stroking strongly. She reached the far wall, turning under, and kicking off it as if she had once been an accomplished racer.
The shadowy form slipped down to her waist clinging to the blue lycra low on her back. Her feet flutter kicked at a speed I would not have previously given her credit for. Her arms alternated reaching up over her head and down cupping the water, propelling her forward. They were the swift rhythmic strokes of the driven.
Ten laps, she showed no signs of slowing. The dark aura had slid down to her ankles holding them tightly trailing behind her. On the next turn, she slipped completely free of its grasp. It was left floundering behind her ineffectively trying to catch up.
Her face took on a concentrated expression. She was on a mission. Twenty, thirty laps went by. She appeared to swim imperceptibly faster with each turn. The dark shadow was left further and further behind with each stroke she took. She moved with unexpected grace through these waters, as if she had been born to them.
Forty, fifty, sixty laps before she finally slowed, taking one final lazy lap before stepping out of the pool, breathing heavily, not looking back. She walked over to the nearby hot tub gingerly lowering herself into the soothing waters. She leaned her head back against the rim of the tub, closed her eyes, and tipped her face to the stars with a sigh, exhausted but satiated.
The creases had disappeared from her brow making her appear years younger, more relaxed. Fifteen minutes later, her skin glowed.
"Mmmmm...Good sleep tonight" was all she said to me with a slight smile as she languidly slipped back into her robe. She strolled past the pool and out the gate with almost a lilt to her step as she headed back to her apartment.
I peered uneasily towards the pool. The shadow was still there following her trail. I hoped, for her sake, that it would not catch up to her for many hours to come.
I did not ask what demons chased her. She had escaped them for the moment.