100 Trains of Thought: 1. Sally

10 Trains of thought

Words and Image by Billie Jenkins

Sally’s children had been gone for four years before she realised that the boredom was not going away. Towards the end the time she occupied the house alone between 8am and 6pm had always been spent reassembling the chaos three teenage boys left in their wake, with Relocation, Relocation, Relocation and Deal or No Deal punctuating her efforts with cups of tea. She had always felt grateful she had a husband who could support her whilst she raised their children; his income gave them enough for a small attached house in a quiet area and a holiday most years. It wasn’t until the first born left that she wondered what she would do with the space that stretched out into her retirement years. There was just so many hours in a day – more than she had ever noticed before.

She thought about the false boredom of youth, when staring at summer skies all day was enough. Back then she would go to the Lido and swim in the afternoons. She was good, she had competed at a local level. The community pool wasn’t like the Lido though, it was pokey, and the tiles had browned at the edges. A few empty, plastic chairs circled the stunted lanes where once a sea of faces sat. She had brought the bathing suit from the trip to Greece she took with her husband the previous Spring. Looking in the mirror at the changing room exit she regretted not vetting the outfit first, the navy was not as slimming as she recalled and the straps confused the folds of her arms. Suddenly the vivid memory of pink and silver lycra came to her, the looks she would get as she walked out into the crowed auditorium, the adrenaline. Dropping herself into the water she became weightless. Nervous, she started in the slow lane, but she couldn’t help but think in some way she was still the better swimmer than anyone else in the pool, her body had just forgotten.

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