I trod water, in the deep end of the pool, watching as she swam past. My heart was beating like a drum, and it had nothing to do with the fact that I had been exercising. The more I looked at her, the more I wanted to know who she was. In films, Vampires are portrayed as super cool, enigmatic........in real life, we can be as nervous and tongue tied as everyone else. How the hell could I start a conversation with her, without coming across as a weirdo? She would have obviously realised I was like her, but that is no real conversation starter.
As she went past again, I could see a tattoo of some sort, in-between her shoulder blades. While I pondered on how I could say hello, and start a conversation about tattoos, I continued doing my swimming exercises. I would dive underwater and swim width ways across the pool, without coming to the surface. Years before, when I had been in my early 20's, I could do that easily, almost able to swim an entire length underwater. Now that I had all the time in the world, I wanted to better that, and practice makes perfect.
"I have to ask, what are you doing?"
The words come out of the blue. I had surfaced at the side of the pool, facing away from the people swimming away behind me. In that split second of confusion, wondering where the words came from, I was able to detect a hint of Celtic Irish in the voice, almost hidden behind a neutral accent, the kind that call centre workers develop.
I turned around, and again, my breath was torn from me. She was in front of me, looking directly at me. It will forever be imprinted in my memory, the way she looked at that moment, as if I had somehow taken a picture and stored it in my mind. Her eyes seemed to glow, a deep jade green. Her deep red hair, pulled into a ponytail, was sticking to her face and shoulder. I could see freckles across the bridge of her nose, and dimples were showing in her cheeks where she smiled.
I realised I was staring at her like a fool..........
"Ummmm..........I'm just seeing how far underwater I can swim, trying to build up build up my cardio regime........."......I suddenly realised how stupid I sounded, and wished I would've said something a lot cooler..........'Oh, I am training to be a free-diver'....
"Ah, right.... I had thought that you were trying to avoid me or something...."
The look of confusion on my face must have been something to see. I had to physically force my mouth shut.
"Pardon? Why would I be avoiding you?"
"Well.........I tried bumping into you earlier, a couple of times, and you would just swim off....then I tried to swim PAST you, and you suddenly started doing this underwater swimming.....I thought that you were letting me know to stop trying to say 'hello'...."
I hung onto the edge of the pool, amazed. The goose flesh that covered my skin had nothing to do with the water temperature. I was in shock. Had she just said what I thought she said?!? I took a deep breath, and tried to swallow my heart and force it back into my chest. I suppressed the urge to laugh, and instead, in a flash of brilliance, became 'Mr Super-Suave'...
"Well, that is most definatley not the case, I assure you. Tell you what, if YOU swim off, do a lap or something, when you come past next, I will have thought up a good line to say hello to YOU, what do you say?"
The grin that she gave me, literally shook me to the core. Until about 30 seconds before, I hadn't believed in love at first sight, but at that point, I felt anything was possible.
I watched as she swum backwards a little, then with a wink, she swam off up the length of the pool. I had maybe a minute to try and figure out what the hell I could say to her, so that I didn't come across as an ass.
By the time she was on her return leg, I had decided that humour, and subtle cheesy irony, would be enough.
I placed myself directly in her line of swim. As she stopped, and started to tread water, I tried to compose myself, trying to make sure to keep my voice calm, and level.......
"Hi, my name is Andrew. Do you come here often?"
I couldnt help but have a cheeky half grin on my face as I said it, it was so cliched, but that was the point. And it worked, because she had a grin on her face too.
For the next few minutes, we forgot that we were in a public swimming pool. My attention was on her, and her alone. It turned out that she had spotted me as soon as she had come into the pool, and had been trying to get my attention for ages. When I had been trying to think of a way to get her attention, I hadnt realised she was doing the same.
The call on the P.A. system for 'all swimmers with BLUE armbands, please leave the pool, BLUE armbands...' reminded me where we are. I raised my wrist, showing I needed to leave. I plucked up the courage to ask if she had plans for the rest of the afternoon, and if not would she like to get a coffee or something? With relief, she told me that she would be free, and that a coffee would be great.
As I dried off in the changing rooms, I wondered if what had just happened, really had just happened. As I had gone to leave the pool, it was like I had become calm, and semi-detached. I had looked over my shoulder at her, and said in a 'matter-of-fact' voice that I would meet her out the front in 30 minutes. I regretted not bringing any deoderant with me, or hair gel. The clothes I had worn to the baths were all crumpled from being pushed into the bottom of the locker too. Hell, I didnt know that I wouldv'e needed to make a good impression....I just hoped that the smell of chlorine wouldn't be a problem....
I stood next to the entrance, trying to think of witty conversation starters. I couldn't remember if I had told her that I wore glasses. Would it matter? She would have obviously seen my tattoos...so that would be one thing to talk about...
She walked towards me, still drying her hair in a towel. I suddenly realised that all the little worries I had been having, about looking like someone who had been dressed to go to the swimming pool, were a moot point. Of course I would look like that, because that is what I had done that morning, and so had she.
It was only when we stood face to face, did I get the chance to actually 'look' at her, as it were. She stood there, a bit shorter that me, looking gorgeous with no make-up on, in a tracksuit and t-shirt, wearing trainers, hair being roughly pushed and pulled into submission. At that point, I think I already knew I was smitten.
We dumped our gym bags into our cars, and walked into town. It was strange, but in that short walk, everything had felt 'right' as it were. I did my best to come across as witty and charming, and not some tongue tied dip-stick, who was rapidly falling under a spell. By the time we reached the coffee house in town, I had that 'feeling' deep inside....
We sat at a table, and over numerous coffees, the next few hours seemed to pass in minutes. We learnt all we could about each other, without making it into an interview or interrogation. She told me that she had been born in Ireland in the late 1800's yet would only say she had 'stopped' at 24 years old...she had travelled the world, many times over. Learnt languages fluently, seen the sunrise and sunset from atop mountains, and met some of our kind that she would class as being her true family now. Unknown to her original family, she did keep track of them, and if she could help them with an anonymous donation during times of financial strife, she did. The tattoo on her back, was of Angel wings. I learnt who her favourite singers were, what her favourite films were, what books she liked, food she hated etc.
We didnt know where the time had gone. The waitress had come over to ask if there was anything else she could get us before they closed, and it was only then we realised we had been there all day. We left a large tip, as all we had done was drink coffee and taken up a table in the process....As we left, we both agreed that it would be a shame to go home now, and that the day was still young. We went to a nearby public house, that she knew was owned by a 'fellow cousin' as she called Vampires. It struck me as we walked, that as we had sat in the coffee house, our nervousness had left us both. When we had first gotten there, we had been polite, and slightly formal. During the course of the day, we had broken down the barriers, taking the mickey out of my choice of tattoos, our clashing musical tastes, the fact we had both been nervous in the morning trying to get each others attention in the pool... When I had come back to the table at one point, I felt her foot search for mine under the table, and I was burning inside when she didnt move her foot from beside mine. Such a little thing, yet it meant the world to me.
I have a habit of 'overthinking' as it were, and I decided to test a theory that I had been building during the day.
As I pulled money from an ATM, when I put my wallet back into my jeans, I reached out with my other hand towards hers, curious if she would do likewise. For a split second, my heart seemed to stop. When I felt her fingers link between mine, locking my hand to hers, I almost let out an audible sigh of relief/pleasure/joy. We walked up the road to the pub she knew of, letting the moment wash over us. It got to a point where I couldnt hold it back any longer.
I turned to her, and looked her direct in the eyes. I could feel my heart race inside my chest, again trying to explode out of me.
"If I dont do this now, I am going to be too nervous later. I may make a quip about asking for a goodnight kiss or something, but in the meantime, you may think I am not interested in you, which REALLY couldnt be further from the truth!. So....I am going to kiss you now............"
She looked at me, her green eyes hidden in a smile that lit her face, her dimples in her cheeks making her look like the cutest thing I had ever seen. She stood so close to me, that if I had wished, I could have counted all the freckles across the bridge of her nose....
"Its about bloody time you tried to kiss me you daft bugger, I've been wondering if you were going to make ME kiss YOU...."