Bucket List

She didn’t realize that she had been holding her breath till the strain on her chest made her feel as if she was having a stroke. That brought her back to reality quickly enough. A few quick short breaths calmed down her racing pulse and she could finally look around her.

The pool looked like a beautiful garden; full of little bobbing flowers in different colors, shapes and sizes. While each was different, there was something tying them all together. The sun rays shimmered gently over the rippling blue as if to affirm her initial analogy. It looked picture perfect. Except for her. She thought she would stick out like a lone thorny cactus in the middle of the oasis.

She could see the instructor heading her way and quickly recapped everything that she had planned to say. How she needed to lose weight. Or that her doctor had suggested this. Or that…She never got a chance. The beautiful blonde in the bright red swimwear wore the kindest smile she had ever seen. There were no questions asked. No need for any excuses or explanations. She wanted to learn swimming and well, that’s what she was going to do.

As she flapped about in the water feeling like a beached whale, she couldn’t help but feel a thrill despite it. For as long as she could remember, she had been scared of the water. If she strained really hard maybe she could recall how it had all started. But that was almost a lifetime ago and she hated to admit that she couldn’t remember things so well anymore. So she splashed with all the strength that she had; sputtering when the fear threatened to take control but not giving up. Every time the wrinkled leathery face of that nag came to mind, she felt recharged to pump her legs harder.

When she got out of the pool, her arms and legs felt laden with weights. She could barely drag herself to the changing  rooms. But even though gravity tugged at her body, her soul was light as a feather. She was floating. She had done it. It had taken the end of one life to jolt start the beginning of hers, but she had done it. Even thought she was 90 and could feel the effect of life taking its toll on her, she had done it.

She checked her list – “Learn to swim” and put a neat little tick next to it. Now she could safely go on that Caribbean cruise that she had booked herself on. She thought about him. Would he look at her amazed when she swam over to him now and move that pushy old nag away? Would his face fold itself adorably as the corners of his lips lifted up to meet his eyes? Would he give her that look once again which had set her blood on fire seventy years ago? She hoped he did. She really fervently hoped that he did.

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