Nelson woke before the alarm rung. Even though he barely sleep at all, he wasn’t tired. The swimmer simply lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling, his mind empty as he waited.
He had no idea what time it was, but he knew dawn was coming. From the thin curtain, he could see the dark sky becoming brighter by the second. Even so, he stayed in bed and closed his eyes, waiting for the alarm.
The moment his cellphone rang, his hand flew to turned it off. Now he knew the exact time. It was 5:30 in the morning. Even though it should be a special day, it didn’t feel like one at all. In fact, it’s more like it’s just like any other day, he thought as he glanced at his workout clothes, laid down by him on the desk in the previous night.
Before the accident, I used to wake up at this hour for the morning workout before breakfast, Nelson remembered with a sad smile. How much did I run back then? Ten kilometers? He couldn’t even remember. After the doctor said I could do a very light workout, I can barely run two kilometers now…
Even with those feelings, Nelson stood up from the bed and picked up his shorts, shirt, underwear, socks and shoes. Despite using every day, however brief and light the workout was, the clothes were cleaned and well conserved. Though I’ve been using it for a while now, comparing to my swim trunks, it looks brand new, he thought with a hollow laugh.
Blowing all the air in his mouth, Nelson changed clothes. When he was done, he looked his reflection in the mirror. I look the same, but I prefer the swim trunks, he admitted with a thin smile.
Just as he had been doing for the past weeks, he warmed up a little. There’s no pain, he realized as he stretched a bit. There hadn’t been for a while, but Nelson always was on the lookout. In the back of his mind, the pain could strike at any time, and then everything would be lost.
Suddenly he let out a weak and cold chuckled. Since when I became so pessimistic? But today’s different. The exam will prove it… Yes, I’m cured. I’m cured. I am cured, he told himself over and over again. I’m fine, I can go back into the water…
But what if I’m not? Last time it was the same. There was no pain, but the exam showed I the muscles were far from healed… This time could be the same. The MRI could show there’s still injured. He sat on the bed, burying his face in both hands. If I can’t go back to the pools, if I can’t swim… I have nothing… I’m nothing…
A soft knock on the door followed by three more brought Nelson’s mind back. He breathed slowly until his heart was back to normal, cleaned the sweat from his brow and turned to the door. Who could be so early? The only person I know who’s idiot enough to knock so early is Marcelo, but there’s no way he’s up so soon, he thought as he walked towards the door. He looked through the peephole, but only saw darkness. Wary, he opened the door just a little.
Through the small crack, Nelson found himself looking at a yawning Cris. But the moment the manager noticed the swimmer, his yawn turned into a bright smile. “Good morning!”
Nelson had no idea how to react. He stood with his mouth opened for a moment, staring at Cris, whose smile never faded. Before he realized it, Nelson smiled as well and let out a chuckle. “What are you doing here?” he asked, opening the door all the way.
“Well, I’m not the one to go spread around telling secrets, since I had a big secret of my own for a while,” Cris said, his smile turning sly for a second, “but someone told me you woke at this hour to jog a little. And that same someone told me you overdo today, so I’m here to keep an eye on you.”
Nelson stared at Cris for a while. “Marcelo,” he said with a sigh. “He never knew how to keep his mouth shut.”
“Hm, that’s unexpected. You seem mad.” Cris closed the distance and looked Nelson in the eyes with a sad expression. “I’m here out of the goodness of my heart,” he said in a worried voice.
The swimmer saw right away he was faking it, but decided to keep up the pretense.
“Well then. Out the goodness of my heart, I thank you,” he said, putting his hand across his chest and bowing his head. He tried to keep a serene expression, but when he looked at Cris and saw the manager with a smile bigger than before, Nelson could hold anymore and laughed. “There’s no way I could be mad at someone worried about me.”
“Yay. Then my job here is done, since I’m here to cheer you up!” Cris said making V with his fingers on both hands.
“Thanks. I never had a manager who’d wake so early to do this for me.”
“I’m a bit different than other managers. You’ll find that out eventually.”
“Is that so? How are you different?”
“First of all, I’m a full-time manager.”
“For real? I’ve never heard anyone doing it full time. Is this job more like a part time for people to get some experience and references?”
“Yeah…” For the first time, Cris’ smile grew thin as he looked at the floor. “I’m not proud, but I’m kinda like the black sheep on the family, so to get them somewhat off my back, this is more like a full time job for me…”
He looked at the floor and kept quiet. Nelson stared at him in silence too. “I don’t know about that,” he said after a while, “but it means I can have you all day for me.”
Cris raised his head and his face illuminated with a smile. “Yes! I’ll be all over you!”
“Then you’ll be coming running with me every morning?”
Still smiling, Cris averted his eyes. “You shouldn’t ask the impossible… Today’s like a once in a life offer. You know, since we’re starting today and all…”
Nelson laughed. “Then I’ll take yours once in a life offer. Let’s go.” He exited the room and locked the door. As they walked down the hallway side by side, Cris kept glancing at him walking around Nelson. “What?”
“Nothing…is just that you look good in those clothes, but you look hotter, I mean, better in a swimsuit. It suits you more.” There was a sly smile on the boy’s lips.
Nelson had no reaction for a moment and then laughed. “Now you sound more like my previous managers.”