Fear comes in many different ways. People can have phobias to heights. Some fear the idea of germs. And others can be terrified of spiders.
But as a woman radiating light and warmth, the only down fall that plagued her was the taunting phobia called Aquaphobic. In some cases this fear can lead people from avoiding bathing, but lucky for Rae it didn’t go that far. But she still couldn't stand the feeling of damp hair or sweat lying on her skin longer than it had too.
However the idea of being surrounded in high water made Rae’s blood pressure rise already.
Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, Rae tried calming her nerves. I just have to face this fear head on. You got this girl, Rae encourage herself.
Opening the girl’s locker door open, Rae took a small step out and halted in panic.
Staring into the chlorinated water being filtered in the pool, Caleb rested a hand on her shoulder. Turning her head up, Rae finally said, “I changed my mind.”
No way can I do this.
She shifted her body to go back to the locker room and Caleb asked pushing her button, “What are you afraid?”
Rae’s neck almost snapped off when twisting her head back. She really hated being called out weak. “I’m not afraid Caleb. I just don’t like water.”
Deep water, she added inside.
“You bathe with water don’t you?” Caleb asking joking, but his eyes held a slight concerned.
No I use jelly, Rae thought sarcastically.
Leaning against the wall, Rae snipped back, “Don’t you think you would have noticed by now if I didn’t?”
Caleb sighed as he placed the keys to the pool area on the bench, “Then water isn’t the problem Rae.” He glanced over in his bathing suit shorts and crossed his arms, “You got to let me in if I’m going to help you not let this fear lead your life.”
Rolling her eyes, Rae glanced back at the water feeling her breathing become shallower. How could I explain this delicately and not sound like a wus? “I don’t know how to swim. And because I don’t know how to swim, I’m afraid to drown and then die.”
“Progress,” Caleb smiled as he grabbed for a bag.
Opening it up, he handed Rae a life vest and something else. What are these? Rae glanced up not impressed when it clicked in her mind.
She said sarcastically, “Really Caleb, swim floaties?”
Caleb shifted over to Rae and started to strap the life vest onto her body. “First lesson. Feeling safe.”
“I feel ridiculous,” Rae muttered as he then blew up the air floats.
Placing the air floats on her arms, Caleb retorted with a smirk, “Good thing it’s only you and me here then.”
“Don’t get too much enjoyment out of this,” Rae said sassy as Caleb lead her down the cement walk way. Feeling her heart rate flutter faster and faster, Rae wasn’t sure if she would soon go into cardiac arrest.
Could I do this?
Caleb suddenly made Rae sit on the bleacher instead of taking her to the water like she thought he would. Seeing her confused expression, Caleb explained, “Lesson Two. Control our nerves.”
“Nerves?” Rae questioned.
“Most of your fear is just anxiety. Once you can calm your nerves, you’ll have half the problem down.”
Rae asked joking, “Did you start taking a psychology class I don’t know about?”
“No,” he gave a small smile, “I did some research after we started our first swim class. I, ah, just wanted to help you anyway I could.” Caleb said slightly self-consciously.
Wow, I didn’t think Caleb would go that far into caring for me, Rae thought slightly touch.
She barely whispered intrigued to his answer, “Why?”
Shrugging his shoulder, Caleb said, “I just don’t like seeing you,” he made the mistake of glancing up and Caleb amazingly lost his voice. Clearing his voice, he finally added, “I never want to see you like that.”
Wiping her sweated hands on her bathing suit, she responded to lighten up the sudden serious and openness he was exposing, “Well it’s easier said than done.”
“We’ll get there,” Caleb said so confidently that she almost believed it.
Rae began to crank her neck and stretch her arms. “Alright, I can relax.”
Feeling someone shake her body, Rae opened her eyes to find Caleb laughing.
“When I meant relax, I didn’t mean go into a coma,” Caleb added still sitting on the bench with her.
“How long was I out for?” Rae asked feeling rejuvenated and he responded, “Only fifteen minutes or so.”
Caleb stood up and asked, “Are you ready now to come over to the shallow end?”
Pushing her body up to again to watch the water ripple around, Rae thought sarcastically. I don’t know what he meant by shallow. It all looked still dangerous to me.
Grasping her hands to pull Rae up to her shaking feet, Caleb slowly guided her to the steps and railing of the pool. Slowly Caleb took one step onto the water covered stairs and was waiting for her to follow.
She stared again at the water and it seemed to taunt her.
Assumed by the sudden emotion of panic and doubt, Rae’s hands began to sweat and shake, her body was feeling clammy and her head felt light headed.
Pulling back, she walked away and kicked the bleacher hard. Who cares if I never learned to swim? It’s not like I ever need it, Rae vented internally.
Boiling out of her, Rae yelled, “I can’t do this. I can’t relax!”
“Rae come on, just breathe and relax,” Caleb said calmly and Rae poked his solid chest. She argued back, “How am I supposed to breathe and relax Caleb?! I’m about to go into water!”
She was about to storm out when she heard Caleb whisper to himself, “I guess Abby isn’t the only one that freaks out.”
“What did you say?” Rae eyes were blazing at that comment. She would never be Abby!!!!!
Caleb smirked suddenly at Rae and taunted, “I was just commenting how you and Abby-”
“Ahh,” Caleb yelled as they both crashed into the water. In three, two, one panic hit again. As if Rae was lit on fire, she somehow propelled herself into the air and latched onto Caleb’s upper torso.
I’m drowning! I’m drowning!!! I’m going to die!!! I’m drownin-? She didn’t feel water surrounding her and so she open one eye slowly.
Face to face, Caleb smiled holding her body up. You think the panic of being in the water now would have sent her into a seizure, but her focus was very distracted between Caleb's bare chest rest against her body while he clasped onto her thighs. Yes, even his bright smile for some reason captivated her.
Never leaving his brown eye wavier away from Rae, he said low, “This isn’t so bad.”
Her mouth began to dry out enabling her to speak well. Was he still talking about the pool or something else? Rae thought more confused.
Glancing down, she responded unsure, “I guess not.”
No, he definitely was talking about the pool. Caleb won’t ever want her. She almost snorted at her next thought, And me being with Caleb. Now that was a joke.
Her head pivot back up and Caleb asked, “Do you trust me?”
“Yes?” Rae said softly and he rolled his eyes and responded sarcastically, “That sounded reassuring.”
Taking a deep breath, she finally answered, “Somehow I do. Why do you ask?”
Please don’t throw me in the water. Please don’t, Rae chanted inside.
“Can you put your feet down on the ground?” he asked with humor in his eyes.
Seeing the conflict in her eyes, he added, “I’m not going to let you go. You have floaties and a vest on. And the water isn’t high here.”
“How do you know?” She asked only half thinking. She wondered if there was any way to leap off of Caleb to get to land again.
Caleb laughed as he said, “Really Rae? I’m 6’2” and standing in water that is close to hip deep. How tall are you?”
“5’7”,” Rae pout hating his logic.
“Just put one foot down at least,” Caleb tried coaxing her.
Taking a deep sigh, Rae made a painful face as she gingerly dropped her right leg into the water. Stretching it around Rae suddenly gasped in surprise, “Oh!” She could really feel the bottom of the pool and she still was alright.
“I’m touching it Caleb,” Rae said with a slight smile of confidence.
Resting his head on her forehead, Caleb whispered, “I know you could. It’s all just in your head Rae.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Rae responded as she focused back on Caleb. “I can do anything I put my mind to it.”
Caleb shook his head in agreement and Rae finally added, “Caleb?”
“Yes,” he said with excitement.
“Can you carry me over to the stairs now,” Rae asked and Caleb gave a small laugh. She pressed her finger on his lips and replied, “It’s progress Caleb. Progress.”