There are no seasons in tucson.
I think that day I got high. Again. And walked on deck zonked out of my mind and the concrete screamed white at me and all we did was sit-ups. And the sky wide-open swirled above me-one two three four oof five six oof seven eight ugh nine ten ungh eleven ungh twelve ... sit-ups.
"Coach, hey, Marley, I need some french fries."
"I own you, Case. Get in the water."
And I get up real close to him and I'm taller than him and I look down at him and my arms are big near him and I tell him that he doesn't have a job without me. And before it even starts, I get kicked out of practice again. I am the only one that semester with straight As and on the dean's list, American relay record holder. I'm learning to be an architect - like Dad - so that I can be far away. It's the only excuse people seem to stand for so I get to check out even when I'm in public. I am frequently stuck in my studio for "reasons" no one asks me about and I love it. I don't leave except for practice and white bread sandwiches with mayonnaise and cheese. On the other days I eat, I eat only candy bars, because I'm fat and try to throw them up afterward and it burns my throat with bile.
I meet Jake in freshman architecture studio and his tight button-up polyester, wide-collared shirts look like they're Saturday Night Fever looking for shoes and his muscles will bust out popping each button down his chest and he's broken and the most talented out of all of us and he loves me and his deep sad eyes and face I don't touch become my best friend who I sometimes make out with late at night in the back of the studio when we're drunk and he holds my neck against the walls like Duval in Stockholm used to when we heard Nirvana for the first time and it makes sense - I forget here. Isca, who I loved on my recruiting trip - his one green and one blue eye - drops out of school and falls in love with a small girl who sucks his dick, he says - I didn't and I pretend I don't care. I don't see him anymore and when I'm alone I cry once over him leaving. I miss my friend.
At practice, everyone else just jumps right into the pool, and I can't shrill the metal water on my skin ripping deep into flesh, so I pace the pool deck back and forth, putting it off as long as I can before Coach Marley says something and I'm the last one in.
Walking back from practice, our lonely feet echo on the same basketball stadium court we cross diagonally in the morning to get to the pool outside. Back and forth every day, twice or three times a day, through this ravine that lies between mountains of empty stadium seats. And it's 5:00 a.m. on most mornings and coming through this dark canyon, up a sloped ramp leading to outside and the morning light, and the ice shines a sliver glass like Christmas on deck and the coaches wrapped up in coats and hats bark at us, and our parkas are warm on our bodies; the only thing under them: a bathing suit.
I show up to practice late again the next day from studio, everyone doing dry land stretching. I sit down and fall in next to Panya, who only reads bridal magazines and looks at me the way weird soup-drinking Georgine used to look at me. Puck her and I ignore it. That shit. Who cares? I don't understand any of their bullshit and they know it - makeup, fucking bridal magazines: Who reads that shit? - and I look away and I stopped trying to be friendly a few months into the year so we walk around each other mostly silent. I'm used to it. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Between sit ups and the sky, I think of Panya's fucking roommate, Jessica, who still watches Disney movies and all the boys think she's hot because of some fucked-up virginal innocence and cuteness she still embodies - one, two - it's fabricated and delusional and therefore so disgusting - three, four - I remain the girl the guys drink with (the girls on the team hate me for it) and I'm not sure if the boys think I'm pretty so I forget about it - I care and I don't even know why so I swallow the swallow and my throat closes up and gets stuck there - oaf, five, six -before practice I heard all the girls throwing up their food like an orchestra in the bathrooms, and the coaches look the other way - This place is fucked up - seven, eight - and the sun is the most beautiful gold and I don't understand why it matters that I'm the fastest and Marley won't talk to me about the light anymore - I know he understands it but when I ask him all he tells me is to get in the water. So I stop asking and he doesn't push me in or wrestle with me the way he does the other girls - he stays away and doesn't touch me and I know this means he loves them more and the sky heartbreaks me open and I dive in to get away from it again into the quiet here - nine, ten.