looked at my watch and saw that I had two more minutes left to rest. I’d already swum ten laps and was taking a break before I tackled the next ten. I’d initially planned on taking a five-minute break but at the four-minute mark, I decided I needed an additional five minutes. However, at the eight and half minute mark, I could tell that my muscles weren’t fully rested and stretched so it was only right that I tack on five additional minutes. I massaged the knot that had formed at the back of my neck and wondered if I should consider resting for an additional five minutes. I’d promised myself to beat my long standing record of thirteen and two-thirds laps and I needed to make sure I was in tip-top shape when I resumed swimming.
“Unnie, have you given up?” Mi Soo called from the other end of the pool. If there were other people around, I’d understand why she felt the need to show off all her flips and customized butterfly moves but since we liked to get in and leave before the rest of the complex even thought of swimming, I wished she’d get a life and just swim normally.
“Race you?” a voice from behind asked.
The hair on the back of my neck thought of standing up so I instantly knew who it was. I turned around to see a half naked Ji Tae looking down at me. He was wearing black, baggy swimming trunks with his towel wrapped around his neck. Even though he was no Ki Won, his body was actually not bad… at least not bad for a soccer player who spent most of his time on the bench. His chest looked pretty bare and I wondered if that was because he hadn’t yet reached puberty or because he waxed it. Either way, it screamed, “Loser.”
When I realized that I was staring, I quickly looked away.
“So what do you say? Five laps?” he asked as he climbed into the pool.
What the hell was his problem? It wasn’t bad enough that I had to see him at home now I had to see him at other places? What the hell? Couldn’t he tell that my sister and I were spending some quality time?
“Hello, Oppa,” my sister called.
He waved at her then refocused his attention on me. “Yes or no?” He’d jumped into the pool and was now in the lane next to mine.
“Have you no shame? Why do you want to race a girl?”
“Are you crazy?” I laughed to emphasize my point but it came out a little louder than I’d hoped.
“Then let’s do it.”
I shrugged. “Why would I? What exactly would I gain from this?”
“The winner gets whatever they want from the loser.”
“I don’t want anything from you so just forget it.” With that, I started on my 10 additional laps. After about 2 laps, I realized that my muscles hadn’t fully rested so I decided to take another break.
I hadn’t even caught my breath when I heard Ji Tae laughing next to me.
“Now I see why you won’t race,” he said between laughs.
Bastard. I turned to tell him to shut up when I suddenly noticed how long his eyelashes were. Maybe it was the moisture on his eyes or the fact that his face had never been that close to mine but they were actually pretty striking. But what the hell? How come girls like Yun Ah had to wear fake eyelashes just so they wouldn’t look bald while a guy got such long, pretty and curly eyelashes? How in the world was that freaking fair? Stupid, disgusting bastard. Was anything good about him?
I looked at him and wished I’d had a tweezer handy so I could pull each and every single lash of his out. “Okay, let’s race,” I said, jumping into the water.
Five laps later, I was fighting what felt like emphysema and cursing the day Ji Tae was born. “You’re an as.shole, you know? Why didn’t you let me win?” I asked between each painful breath.
“Why should I?” he asked, looking proud of himself.
“Have you no manners? If you knew anything about being a gentleman, you’d have let me win.”
“Yeah, right. If I’d let you win, you’d have been just as angry.”
I tsked. I rested my back against the wall of the pool and tried to regain my strength. “That shows how little you know about me. Regardless of how I’d won, I would have gloated and made fun of you for weeks.”
We were interrupted by the sounds of thrashing and splashing from the other side of the pool.
“What’s that?” Ji Tae asked in shock.
I looked around the pool and instantly knew what was going on. “Oh, it’s just Mi Soo. Ignore her," I said, rolling my eyes.
“What? Is she drowning?” His voice was shaking.
I grabbed him just as he turned to swim to her. “Don’t bother – she’s faking it.”
“Get off me!” He tried to shake me off but I was holding on with my all my might. “Hee Soo, what’s your problem? Let me go to her.”
“Are you deaf? Trust me on this; she’s faking it. There’s no way one of the strongest swimmers on her school’s team would drown in the shallow end. She just wants your attention.”
Ji Tae was still fighting me off when the trashing stopped.
“You suck! You suck! I hate you!” Mi Soo screamed as she practically jumped out of the pool. “I hate you both!” She ran back to the building leaving her slippers and towel behind.
“Should I go after her?” Ji Tae asked as he got out of the pool. He looked like a weird combination between confused and shocked. Poor thing. I bet he’d thought that my family was more normal.
He stretched his hand out to help me out of the pool but I pretended not to see it. “Give her time to cool off.” I picked up my towel and dried myself. Despite Mi Soo’s tantrum I was quite pleased with myself for breaking my personal best. Wow, 17 laps! I was sure I was going to make it to 20 the next week. “Don’t worry about her, okay?” I picked up her towel and slippers and put them in the bag I’d brought with me.
“Are you sure?” he asked uncertainly as he ran his towel over his hair.
I nodded as we started to walk back home. “Besides, you can talk to her when you come over this evening. Oh, speaking of which, I tried to watch this show called Heroes but I’m completely confused because I don’t understand what they are saying.”
“What happened to body language and filling the blanks?” He fell in step with me.
I rolled my eyes. “Just translate it when you come over.”
“It’s Saturday so I’m not coming.”
“Oh. But you can still come – it’s not like you’re doing anything better.” Besides, I really needed to know what was happening! There were people flying and there were some weird twins who killed people.
He scoffed at me. “I have a life, you know. I’m not like you.” He opened the door for me.
I went through it and waited for him to shut it behind him. “Whatever. You wish your life was as interesting as mine,” I said as we walked to the elevators. “What could you possibly have to do today?”
“If you really must know, I have a date.”