TRACKSIDED

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MIDNIGHT SWIM

I drop Jane off; her house is all dark; there are no lights.

We climb the few steps leading to her porch, “Isn’t there someone home?”

“No, my parents are at one of those events where they have to be present; otherwise, the earth will open up and swallow us.”

My gaze travels on the massive building behind her, and I wonder if she’s never scared of being alone.

“It’s a big house.”

“Yeah, it didn’t come with his function. My father bought this one. He loves South Korea and considers it like his second home. We even have a swimming pool.”

“Tchin-cha,” Jane can’t imagine how huge the revelation she made is.

“Yeah, do you want to see it?”

Jane’s darting eyes followed by a lowered head tell me the words escaped her. Still, I answer, “em.”

It’s not that I don’t want to see the pool, I’m even delighted, but I’m not sure if I should. A lot of things have happened; things have changed. I’ve changed, and so have some thoughts and opinions. Now the feeling of being alone with Jane in her house seems like a dangerous idea. Jane has all my trust; it’s my motivations that scare me. A nervous smile is all I come up with, but her face relaxes, and she adds, ” come on.”

It’s not the first time, I mean women invite me, but I don’t know why my heart is beating fast. We don’t go inside but around the house to the swimming pool.

Jane turns on the backyard lights, and a festival of shades of blues highlights our faces.

“Do you want to swim?”

“Can I?”

Jane doesn’t need to ask twice. I throw off my shoes and jump in with my clothes on, splashing Jane on the same occasion.

She cringes as the cold water hits her.

I swim in the water a minute while Jane walks around and follows me before floating to the surface and push my hair back, “don’t you want to come in?”

Jane takes a step back, “It’s freezing, no, and I can’t swim, remember?”

I swim to her feet, and I look up at her, “I’ll teach you.”

“No.”

The blunt answer leaves no room for negotiation; still, I insist.

“Come on, Jane; I thought you did things I couldn’t imagine,” I challenge her. This type of remark usually makes people react; it triggers their fighting spirit.

“That was before,” Jane replies, but I can read she’s fighting the temptation.

“Please.”

The sweetest puppy face follows my plea, it’s my ultimate weapon, and apparently, it’s hard to resist, Jane’s quivering lips attest it.

“I haven’t got a swimsuit.”

Damn, she hard.

“Come in with your clothes,” I beckon, pushing myself back with my legs. I’m in my element; I must have been a merman in a former life.

“I’ll sink.”

“I’ll save you,” I say, coming back to the edge where she stands.

Jane seems to hesitate; that’s when I realize the ridicule of my question. It’s cold, if not to say freezing. I’m used to it, but Jane will probably be stuck with a fever tomorrow.

I’m about to give up when suddenly Jane takes off her jumper. I can’t believe she’s going to do it.

Jane has a white t-shirt underneath, it’s weird, but with all the layers she wears, I always believed that Jane had more body. She sits at the edge of the pool and dips in her feet.

I take her by the hands, and she slowly slips into the water. Goosebumps immediately appear on her skin, she shivers.

“Look at me, Jane,” she does as asked. The water seems to reflect in her eyes. They’ve never looked so bright as they do tonight. I’m spellbound just like I was the day I fished her out of the Hangang River. I start to pull her by the hands.

Jane fixes me till we are in the middle of the pool, “okay, now don’t panic, I’m about to let go.”

A swimming lesson is what I promised, and it’s what I’m going to deliver.

“No,” she yells, but it’s a second too late. I let go.

Jane sinks like a rock; I grasp her and make her float to the surface. Her hair covers her face like seaweed, which I push back. Our eyes lock on one another as I hold her by the waist.

How can such beautiful eyes withhold such oblivion? Jane’s eyes are an ocean filled with crashing waves of torment. I wish I could calm it all.

A weird sensation sweeps me, one which compels me to pull Jane closer.

“Do you trust me?” I say.

“Yes,” she whispers.

In a quick gesture, not leaving space for reaction, I grasp her face with one hand and approach my face. My lips graze hers gently, clinging to her peach tinted lip balm wielding me to kiss them, and I do. We slide into the water, and I push on my legs to float back up. I let the hand slip down her back.

It’s not a half thought-action; I didn’t plan, and perhaps it’s why my heart is running laps to Lapland and back, but I know I won’t regret it because I made up my mind.

Soo Ae or coach Gong’s words have nothing to do with it. I’m not playing up the ploy I imagined to taunt them. At this moment, I want Jane Austen, and I desire her to be mine. To hell, wishful thinking, if I’m going to burn, I rather go down with fireworks.

Jane pulls her lips in retreat; I can read the confusion in her eyes, sadness too. She seems lost, yet her eyes sparkle as it appears she’s also has made a decision. My heart implodes in front of her twinkling eyes.

I like her more than I’m willing to admit, and now I know by the way Jane responds, the emotions are mutual.

We kiss in the water, and I remember Ponyo, the heroine of my favorite Miyazaki flick. Ponyo’s love for Sosuke pushes her to run out of the sea to live on land, and Jane’s feelings got her to step into a cold pool.

The movie is part of my best childhood memories, and here it’s connected to another memory and feelings, which I know I won’t forget.

A small mist generated by our bodies' heat as we kiss floats around us, and I realize how weightless Jane is. Stuck in the moment, I don’t debate on the question. Instead, I’m cradled by the kisses and our intimate proximity, which makes me feel alive. Jane is my knight in shining armor. She’s the one who saved me, here for the first time since the accident, I breathe.

“Jane. We’re backㅡ.”

Our heads turn at the same time, and we discover a woman who I assume is Jane’s mother and father standing at the edge of the pool. The woman stands there a second with her father, who goes back inside.

“Jane, I don’t want you to be catching a cold, don’t stay out too long,” her mother says before going back inside, where Jane and I both hear her parents exchange.

“Rebecca, is that all?” The man says.

“What do you expect, Travis? She’s 20. It’s too late for the parenthood scolding scholarship,” their voices trail off.

I’m in shock; I expected anything but that. Still, I bring Jane back to the edge of the pool; her parents have killed the instant but not the flame, which warms my soul.

I help Jane out, her t-shirt is now transparent, and I see the contours of her bra and her heaving chest. Right now, I’m thankful her parents arrived.

“I’m sorry about that,” the expression she has makes me doubt what she is referring to.

Suddenly I’m seized with fright; I hope she doesn’t regret the kiss. It’s been such a while I’ve felt this way. I don’t want what happened to be a midsummer night dream.

“It’s okay; I’ll be leaving.”

Jane stares at me up and down, “but you’re drenched.”

“I always have spare clothes in my motorcycle tank bag. It’s my mother who forced me to do so since she was tired of seeing me coming home dripping wet.”

Jane smiles, “you were mischievous.”

“Very.”

Jane wants to walk me to the door, but I insist on her to go back inside.

“Naeil payo [see you tomorrow],” I say.

I want to kiss her again, but I’m afraid. I’m scared to die from the feelings which seem to be climbing crescendo since we left the water.

“Umm, see you tomorrow,” she replies.

I turn to leave and switch back to see her; Jane is still standing on her porch. I wave for her to go back in; she hugs herself and goes inside.

I walk to my bike, with a feeling of being filled up. I miss her already. I haven’t felt a living person since the accident; the sensation is overwhelming; I’m happy.

It’s an emotion I thought I would never welcome within me again, and now I receive it with open arms hoping it will take permanent residence.

Jane is the one I owe all this to, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Many people say broken people shouldn’t be together as they can destroy each other. I beg to differ; perhaps two broken pieces can fit and be fixed together. It’s what I like to think of Jane and me.

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