The Poolside Trainer

I was almost relieved to see someone who looked as bored as I was, for I was never one for parties and apparently he wasn’t either. I had taken shelter in the basement of the host’s house in attempt to find the bathroom after a few children puppy-eyed their way into playing Pie Face with me, only to find out that the whipped cream came out green. As a self-proclaimed germaphobe, the sight of the crispy nozzle had me bolting, gagging to myself as I threw open a random door. Bounding down the flight of stairs, I spotted a mini-fridge, where I plucked a random drink to rid myself of the awful feeling of nausea.

It was then that I noticed that there were others. Two played a card game on a raised bar stools in the corner. Two more were challenging the other at the pool table in the center of the camel-colored, carpeted room. At my entry, the card players lowered their hands, glancing at each other before gazing at me with bewildered expressions residing in their eyes. The pool players followed suit, lowering their cues to stand with them like staffs. They glanced at one another, and then to the card players, and back at me. Who are you and what are you doing here?

I gulped at the exchange, gripping the bottle of my drink as I spied someone sitting on the leaf colored couch. He lounged, one coal pant covered leg crossed over the other, stretching to heavy combat boots. The lower part of his face was masked by a book, the cover colored in warm, neon colors. His eyes seemed unamused, half lidded.

The atmosphere was so still that one could throw a pebble into it and it would ripple. I swam the room, making my way over to the couch, settling next to the engrossed reader, taking a swig of the random beverage that I had grabbed from the fridge in attempt to look busy. The card and pool players returned to their games, gradually returning to roaring banter. The reader next to me had not moved one bit, and for a half second, I studied his features.

His eyes were such a dark brown they almost resembled the inky words of his book. Although, one was much lighter than the other. The left eye more resembled the fore edge rather than the letters. As the material seemed to be rather well taken care of, the corners remained dull, the foot band crinkled inwards. The fore edge itself had faded from shiny white, now dull in places from wear and in spots that the owner had attempted to rub the impurities from. His hair complemented pale skin, for they both seemed to be of similar shades, and can only be described as windblown like the pages in his book.

I broke out the colored pencils I had stashed in my hoodie pocket as well that the tiny notebook hidden there also. I began to sketch away.

“Rainbow hair?” a silky voice asked. I glanced at the stranger next to me who had since turned a page or two. I opened my mouth to say that I was experimenting with color, using warmer colors to indicate where the light was coming from and using cooler colors to act as shade, but feeling uneasy in a room full of people who seemed just as uneasy about my being there, I answered a simple,

“Yes.” But as I was returning to my sketch, a deafening, elated exclamation was heard from upstairs. And even from the basement, I could tell exactly who it was. Apparently, the figure next to me could tell too, for at the same time, we spoke her name like a curse. While the rest paraded upstairs to greet her, we abandoned our spots on the couch in search of shelter. Unfortunately, the room was rather small. I looked at the table in the center of the room, diving under it only to find another person there, his book clutched tightly in one hand as he welcomed me with the other.

Shoes clicked above us. The door swung open and the stairs creaked under weight. We knew exactly whose weight as she called out. I had never held onto someone so tightly in my life and I looked to him, wondering if we should answer. He shook his head profusely. Shoes made their way about the room, circling the pool table like a shark before heading upstairs. We stayed under the table, dreading her return for a while, wordless until we gradually poked our heads out.

I gave him my name and he gave me his as he assisted me in plucking colored pencils from the couch cushions.

“Thanks for letting me, uh, hide with you.” I crinkled my brow and looked to the ceiling, thinking that I would never say such words.

“No one should be subjugated to that.” He replied in all seriousness. In reality, the woman we hid from was kind and decent, but she could talk your ear off for hours, jumping from one subject to the other.

“How mature of us.” I muttered with a half laugh.

“How adult of us.” He chuckled, setting his book down to grab a pool cue to continue the game that was left. “Every play pool?” I shook my head and he threw me a cue, giving a rather detailed instructions on how the game was played, which made sense at the time.

He let me take a shot. I missed. I did not hit the ball and that ball did not hit the one intended. That would have been acceptable. No, I missed the ball with the tip of the cue completely. My new friend offered words of encouragement as I attempted again only to miss again. Flustered, I passed off my turn, spewing words of inexperience and semi-hollow wishes of examples. He shrugged, proceeding to point out the cue balls he wanted to hit and how he would do it. I was a bit at a loss and proceeded to be even more so as he hit every ball he said he would into the pockets with one shot. Turning back to me, he suggested something along the lines of “getting the hand of it”.

Easy for you to say. I lined up with the red striped ball, aiming for simple.

“I choose you, Pikachu.” I whispered to myself, actually hitting it that time as it went rolling slowly towards one of the pockets, until-

“Charizard, I choose you.” a solid red cue ball smacked into mine, sending it off course. I looked up in shock. He wore a crocked smirk and held laughing eyes.

I scoffed. “Blastoise, I choose you!” I growled, sending a blue cue ball towards the pocket.

“Go! Venusaur!” Once again, my ball was sent rolling in another direction. Tossing the cue aside, I picked up a random ball, sliding it to the pocket, calling out another Pokemon name. He did the same, rolling the orange striped only for it to be intersected.

“It’s on!” he nearly growled.

Click. Click. Clack. That’s how the returning pool players found their game. Bounding down the stairs they  heard–yelling? Then a “DUCK!” as two cue balls hit the wall behind them.


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