Someone has already filled your locker, but no one can fill your role. You may not think you affect lives as much as you do… you would be surprised. The girl who has your locker now… she’s annoying. God awful annoying. She has a whiney voice that reminds me of microphone feedback, and an irritating face that smiles and yet wrinkles its nose in disgust at the same time, and she’s always complaining about things that are irrelevant. You know the type.

I think everyone complains a lot more than I noticed before. Did I do this too? Now I just sit there completely silent. Oh I’ll answer people if they ask me questions – always so pointless, but I’m not impolite. I’ll apologize, quiet but sincere, when I’m in someone’s way, but other than that I stay so silent. I’m always questioning – do I hate this or do I love this? You don’t go anywhere, you just trace the line back and forth back and forth till you feel like your knees are broken and your arms are made of pudding. Then you go back and forth some more.

What did I ever enjoy in this sport? I liked to complain. I liked meets when I felt I really did my best. I loved meets when everyone felt so good about themselves. I loved long bus rides listening to music and sighing over boys. Sighing, and singing just for fun. I really liked finding secret places under construction and taking pictures. I loved eating way too many of the free cookies, and I loved working out in Florida when the weather was just so perfect and you could feel the glorious sun shining on your back burning the swimmer’s tattoo of a speedo line into your skin.

So I stay, and I know if I left my parents would become irrational. My dad might understand but my mom… who knows what she would do. Stop talking to me? Stop paying for my books? Stop encouraging me? I’m not sure. One thing is for sure, she’d stop bragging to her friends, and heaven forbid she no longer have anyone to brag about. My sister isn’t quite enough, and an over-achiever for a youngest daughter isn’t enough either, this over-achiever has to maintain a 3.5 in college and stay active in a varsity sport and participate in every club possible… oh and take a full class load too. I’m such a good daughter.

I stay and I stay silent and work hard. All I want to do is just get it done with and get out. I hear everyone around me saying the most irrelevant things and I want to scream at the kid who is just so loud and stupid. He is so dim and so loud and it’s not his fault. He’s kind and smiles a lot and really there’s no problem with him other than he’s just too loud. I secretly plot all their deaths in my head and the only time I let out a sound is when I laugh.

I laugh at the most inappropriate times. I laugh at the things that are supposed to be taken seriously because they just can’t be taken seriously any more. I hear them and I laugh and all I can hear after is your voice in my head saying “What a joke”. It’s true. I believe it. My laughing isn’t pleasant and enjoyable like Silent Matt… it’s more of a sinister cynical laugh. Laughing at them for even thinking I could take this seriously.

The best was when I was standing in lane four, surrounded by freshman girls staring wide-eyed at the man who had come to talk about NCAA rules. He started talking about alcohol and illegal substance abuse and I laughed. I laughed and I smiled and I looked over and I saw you. Though you had quit the day before, my eyes were never good and I could have sworn I saw you standing in lane six laughing at me too. The freshman girls with their bulging dear eyes looked at me and who knows what they thought, but their frowns made me wonder if my laugh had startled them.

Little did they know I wasn’t even really there… I was watching you “flick fire” with Ken. I was smelling the smoke on my clothes afterwards and wondering what it would be like to taste a clove. I was on the coffee tabledancing! Dancing with you and Kevin and Devon and I was goofing off, dressing up, putting lipstick marks on the cheeks of all the delicious boys. I was trying new things – I mean isn’t that what college is all about? You devote your time to trying new things and figuring out what is good and what is bad. Figuring out what you want to do with your life afterwards, and having fun with it to boot! I was defiantly not there. Not in the same old pool. Not doing the same old heart-busting, leg-throbbing, shoulder-ripping work outs. I was not listening to some guy tell me the NCAA tests you for street drugs like dope. I was not listening to Lindsey joke about having to give up her dope.

So perhaps you weren’t there but you were on my mind. You have not escaped so easily.

I find myself rushing out of practice. No more chatting, no more long showers, I just keep moving as fast as I can so I will get dressed and out of there and off to dinner before anyone else. As I towel off my hair and start pulling layer upon layer of drag suit off my body I look over half expecting you to be there, completely dressed already, packing your shit away into your bag and giving me a look that says “Why do I do this? I don’t want to wait for you… but I will”, and instead I see the locker that once was yours now full of some other girl’s shit. You would be proud of me, working so hard and getting out so fast just so we could walk to dinner together… but you’re not there. Has it even been a week? You’ve hardly been gone for a week and I feel like I may not make it through the season with out killing someone. You know how it is. At least I still see you around, and at least it was the sport you hated, and not me. I’m not sure what I would do if you were out of my life completely. You may not think you’ve touched my life so deeply, but you have.