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Apoolling Behavior; Open (as long as you have business in the girls' locker room)
Topic Started: Jan 11 2018, 05:05 PM (537 Views)
MurderWeasel
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There were not too many things about school that Juliette Sargent honestly, truly hated. Annoyances were plentiful—somebody was always spinning Mr. McClellan off topic or failing to deliver their side of a group project or creating a roadblock in the halls by standing in a huge cluster socializing—but in a way that Juliette knew how to navigate and could easily keep from impacting her GPA. These things were transient, winding her up in the moment and then promptly dissipating. That was not the case with gym class. Juliette hated gym class.

What was a step above hatred? Loathing, perhaps. If Juliette hated gym class, she loathed pool day. Everything about it was awkward and uncomfortable. She loathed the way the water messed up her hair and makeup. She loathed the repetition. She loathed wandering around with damp hair. She loathed the swimsuit even more than she hated the shorts and t-shirt of a normal gym class. She had at least learned from past mistakes and engineered her schedule such that gym was her very last class of the day, so she didn't have to sit through further lessons dripping on her papers, driven to distraction from the things that actually mattered to her future by mandatory credits that she had done her level best to avoid as long as possible.

And if Juliette loathed pool day as a whole, she abhorred the locker room and all related. There was little more uncomfortable than changing in front of her classmates; it made the comparative modesty of the school-mandated one-piece swimsuit feel like a joke. Juliette had grappled long and hard with how to approach the situation, weighing the moderately improved comfort of changing in one of the bathroom stalls against the corresponding appearance of being an insecure antisocial freak. She'd chosen, ultimately, to grit her teeth and bear it. Be quick, be calm, act normal. Nobody else seemed to think it was a big deal, so she would pretend she didn't either.

She did, however, do her best to turn up as early as possible for class, so she could get dressed before the bulk of her peers showed up, and then to leave a little late, so most of them were already gone when she changed back. This also looked good for Coach Skinner, who Juliette tried to impress as much as possible but ideally in ways that didn't involve any sort of extra physical activity or gym participation. Looking vaguely enthusiastic by being one of the first there and then standing around not doing anything until everyone else arrived and class actually began was a freebie, as was sticking around after to help with any cleaning up. Nobody had to know she was waiting for the showers to mostly empty out.

Today, however, Juliette was running slightly late; she was early but not as early as usual. This got her nerves going, a pressure building, not quite touching her yet but about to at any moment and with ever-greater force behind it. She was working the lock at her locker, off in a corner of the room, ready to stash her bag and get the dreaded swimsuit-donning over with, but she must have turned the dial one extra rotation because the lock did not pop.

Her first impulse was to growl in frustration or bounce it off the floor or wall, but she didn't do either of those things. She took a breath, not even that deep of a breath, blinked once, and started turning the dial again, slower and more carefully this time. She thought she could hear the door opening, and imagined others beginning to pour into the locker room behind her, shoes clattering against cold damp tile, fluorescent light washing over her classmates as they laughed and chattered and took off their clothes, and then she pushed these thoughts from her mind. They were disrupting her focus.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
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Gym class had been something Marceline had avoided for most of her time at George Hunter. She had never really enjoyed having to exercise, and she had really gotten enough from marching band and her drumming anyway, but one thing she did enjoy was swimming. It was a nice break from the other activities of the school day, a chance for her to relax and enjoy the feeling of the water enveloping her body. Had she been born under different circumstances in a different life, maybe she would have even been a swimmer.

Some people, however, didn't really share her love for the water.

When Marceline entered the girl's locker room, she had noticed that a nearby locker mate, Juliette, was still struggling with the lock, when normally she would already be dressed and ready. Marceline had long since figured out through observation that Juliette was none too keen on gym class in general, a feeling they shared, but where Marceline enjoyed the water, Juliette seemed to hate it even more than normal gym class. It was a difference between them that Marceline could potentially exploit for her own amusement.

She leaned over in Julie's direction, making sure to draw out the first few words of her sentence. "Heeey theeere, Julie Cooly, having trouble getting into your locker?"
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MurderWeasel
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The current situation was not why Juliette usually arrived early and changed quickly, but it being avoided by those same behaviors was undeniably an auxiliary benefit. Marceline Carlson was someone who seemed to take a certain glee in winding others up, and part of this came through a certain casual callousness in her interactions with them. Or perhaps she was merely ignorant of the effect she had on others, or danced to her own tune without the typical socialization that told her to stay in her own lane. The cause was not immaterial in the grand scheme of things, but it made no difference in this precise moment; the girl's manner, whatever its origin, was on full display as she popped up, summarily renamed Juliette, and poked at the situation that had been most frustrating moments ago.

And yet, Marceline was not all the girls in class, was not a storm of noise and chaos and bodies and distraction; she was a single variable, though admittedly an outlier. The manifestation of her unpredictability was a predictable event.

"Hey, Marceline," Juliette said, glancing to the other girl and giving her a closed-lip smile but quickly turning back to her task. As she spoke, her fingers twisted the cool metal dial. She'd been halfway through the combination when Marceline spoke, and had not lost her place. 41-18-22, three counterclockwise, two clockwise, one more counterclockwise. With a flick of her thumb, the lock opened with a satisfyingly metallic click.

"I miscounted the first time," Juliette said, returning her gaze to the newcomer. The pop of the lock had been like a pop in the bubble of tension surrounding her, and now she was, if not back in her element, returned to status quo. This was no worse than any other time she'd been late enough to have to change with some of her classmates. Perhaps it was even somehow better.

"How're you?" she asked.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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"I'm feeling great!" Marceline said, as she fiddled with the combination lock on her own locker. "Later today I get to make out with my hot girlfriend, so you know, that's pretty fantastic."

"And as a bonus, it's pool day!" She yanked her locker door open, revealing her one piece swimsuit inside. "Spending time in the water is always fun, but if all else fails I can just pretend to be a sea monster and grab someone and drag them underneath," she said, as she clawed at the air playfully while taking off her clothes. "But uh... I've kinda figured out that you don't really agree with me on that one, Julie Cooly. You look like you're ready to die whenever we get in the water."

"But that's okay, it's like, uh... hold on a second..." Marceline tossed her clothing into the locker and slammed the locker door closed, before quickly slipping into her swimsuit. The idea of changing in front of other girls had never really bothered her, they were all human after all, and they didn't need to be ashamed of their bodies; though she acknowledged that changing mid-conversation might make the proceedings a little bit awkward, as she sheepishly turned her attention back to Juliette.

"...I uh, just thought I'd rib you a bit because of it is all, eheh."
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"It's fine," Juliette said. The other girl was changing, and while her attention seemed somewhat focused on her own process of disrobing, Juliette kept up her smile. At the same time, her fingers found the hem of her blouse; she then blinked, dug her swimsuit out of her pack, and stuffed everything but her clothes into the locker. Properly-utilized efficiency could help in almost all circumstances.

"I don't hate it. It's just... I guess it's not my favorite, no," she said. She bent and removed her shoes and socks, then straightened and pulled her blouse over her head. She felt her lips twitch slightly in the brief moment her face was concealed. She was going to keep talking. Different situations called for different solutions, and in this case talking was at least a small distraction. She needed distractions to draw her focus away from what she didn't want to think about. Who was Marceline's girlfriend? Did she know the answer to that question? Juliette must have know the other girl's orientation if she was so open about it, but had somehow drawn a blank. She glanced at Marceline as she spoke, the customary search for eye contact, and found the other girl was still mostly naked.

"I don't think I'm good at it," Juliette continued. Distractions. She slipped out of her skirt, the perfect excuse to turn her gaze back away. "I didn't really learn as a kid, and I feel like I disappoint Coach Skinner. Most of you look so graceful."

Juliette obviously had not been properly surreptitious about her distaste for the activity. She liked to think she had very good control over how she presented herself to others, but the truth was that relied heavily on her paying attention and dedicating focus to it, and when she was forced into the pool she was spending a lot of her concentration on motor functions. At least Marceline had let her know that her discomfort had shown through. The other girl seemed astute and perceptive, which shouldn't have taken Juliette by surprise. Maybe under better circumstances it wouldn't have.

Quickly, Juliette finished undressing and pulled on her swimsuit. Once she was settled that it was fitting properly, she turned back to her garments, discarded on the bench behind her, and started folding them. The tiles beneath her feet were clammy, damp. Her legs and arms felt exposed and uncomfortably chill. She ran her right hand over her left wrist a couple times, trying to work some warmth into it.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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"Hm, that's fair enough," Marceline said, while running her fingers through her hair. "Not everyone can look as good as I do in the water, after all."

She glanced at Juliette and smiled. "Kidding, of course. I'm not that full of myself."

Marceline quickly looked around the room, judging how many of the other girls in the room had finished changing. Many of them seemed to be almost done, and a few of them were already leaving to head out to the pool. There were, however, still a handful of stragglers that were still talking to each other in their normal clothes, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the gym teachers would come in and yell at them if they didn't get changed quickly enough. Given that the two of them were also hanging around talking rather than moving, they would probably get lumped in with the other stragglers, and Marceline wasn't in the mood to be angrily ordered around.

"Hm... how's about you and I go ahead and get out there, Julie Cooly?" She winked at the other girl. "Don't worry, you won't have to get in the water immediately."
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Juliette let out a chuckle after Marceline explained that she was joking. School-sanctioned swimsuits weren't overly flattering on anyone, though some wore them better than others. Juliette also paid particular attention to the way her companion of circumstance stressed the word "that," deciding that it was another self-deprecating joke, but at the same time wondering whether there might not be a kernel of truth about the statement. If there was, just how self aware was it?

The lockers had filled and partially emptied again, and Juliette's attention had at least been generally preoccupied with Marceline, pushing some of the typical concerns from her mind. With them, however, had gone some of her attention normally devoted to keeping herself on task. Juliette did not enjoy that sort of lapse, and particularly not in this sort of situation. Keeping on Coach Skinner's good side was hard enough with Juliette's general lack of enthusiasm for the class. Marceline had figured her out, so she should be especially sure to put her best foot forward today.

"I guess we should," Juliette said to Marceline. She let a little of the resignation she'd normally have muffled into her tone; what was known was known, and nobody else seemed to be paying them much attention.

With a nod to the other girl, Juliette made her way through the locker room, eyes fixed on the floor as if to avoid stepping in anything slimy, watching her own toes as they crossed the tiles. Her toenails were painted very pale green, matching her fingernails, despite the fact that this was the only situation in which her classmates would ever see her feet and they were mostly going to be submerged anyways. She was pretty sure she looked as good as she could—Juliette scrupulously kept up with her hygiene and appearance, but especially on gym days; it wouldn't do to slack on shaving on a day when others would actually see her legs and armpits.

Once she was into the pool room proper, Juliette slowed her pace a little, appreciating the change of terrain beneath her feet from slick tile to rough concrete. She'd moved quickly, but had made sure not to rush ahead to an extent that she'd abandon Marceline unless the girl was lollygagging. And now that all she had left to move towards was the actual swimming, she allowed her pace to become even more relaxed.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Marceline followed Juliette out of the locker room, teasing her hair with her hands all the while.

The concrete of the pool room was rough on her feet–Marceline was used to constantly wearing socks, so any sort of uneven terrain touching her bare feet annoyed her–and the smell of the chloramines coming from the water irritated her nose, but the water itself was always nice. She sat down next to the water's edge and dipped her feet into it as sounds of conversation echoed around the pool room, the water feeling cool on her skin.

She craned her head toward her victim turned compatriot and shouted, "Hey, Julie Cooly! C'mere, the water's great!"

"C'mooooon," she continued, "you don't want to be my first victim when I feel like being the local pool shark, do you?"
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Man, all that effort to figure out somethin' to put on today and it turned out she had gym class anyway.

((Teresa Rojas, continued from Sweet Design))

Wasn't too big of a deal, though. Like, yeah she wasted some time but… eh, bein' annoyed about every bit of shit that went her way didn't give her the ty'pa mood that she liked. 'Specially when it was gym, even though it ruined the aesthetic this girl right here was goin' for it still prolly stood as onenatha only fun classes in this school. Like, seriously. When in the other classes did she actually run around and like, actually do shit? Not Math. Not Geo. Not any of the other classes she'd do today, that was for sure. Like, really. Social Studies or whatever they called it was okay but honestly? She'd pick PE over doin' anything else any day of the week.

'Specially this one. Pool day was like, fuckin' great. She just got to like, hang around, do shit with people, have fun in the water all she liked. In the grand scheme of things there were a couple things above that in the fun ladder, but when she was in class?

Yeah, ain't a lot there was that could get above that.

So here she was. Struttin' around the pool. This girl here got out kinda early so she decided to like, pace around and do stuff. Wait for other peeps to come out. Once they showed herself, she'd make her choice. Figure out who the coolest person to hang with for today would be. She sorta knew already - been a while since she'd been in another PE class, would be really fuckin' weird if she didn't know everyone by now - but hey, maybe someone else here would be appealin'. Maybe she might just hang around some other people today. People that this girl right here could have some a lil' bit of fun with.

People like Marcy, for example.

She could see the two of em' near the edge of the pool, Marcy already gettin' herself wet. She knew the two from around school - sorta hard not to really. Marcy was wanna those kinda people who this girl sorta saw as a little kindred - wasn't into parties like she was, but hey, girl was fun and girl was loud, not a lotta difference between the two of 'em. Juliette was like, the wannabe politician she always saw on the walls. Always wanted to look proud, always wanted to look pristine, always wanted to look, like, as good as possible just so that she could get everyone else's votes when the polls came.

But hey, that didn't matter too much.

She took a couple steps over to the two of them. Stopped with her eyes in front of Julie's face, her back facing the pool.

"Yo," she said, letting the word go long. "You guys ready?"
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MurderWeasel
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"Alright," Juliette said. "I'm ready."

She wasn't. Normally, she would've lingered on the edges of the pool for as long as she could before Coach Skinner forced everyone to get started. That could be some time if, as was the case today, the woman was distracted with students or preparations on the other side of the room. This situation was different, however; Marceline was a joker and was providing ample warning, and Juliette was going to have to get into the pool anyways, so she'd play by the girl's rules. Teresa's appearance only served to magnify the wisdom of that choice.

Juliette saw her two companions of fate as cut from the same cloth, or at least adjacent bolts. The trajectory for this class was at this point effectively set; all that remained was for Juliette to decide how she would navigate it—a decision she'd pretty much made a few minutes ago—and then to put that into action.

"Hey, Teresa," she added, giving the newcomer a little smile as well.

Then Juliette ducked around her, being careful not to get into the girl's bubble but also not to keep so far from her that it felt like she was shying away or avoiding her, and knelt at the side of the pool next to Marceline. Juliette gave the girl a quick once-over; she was easing her way into things or perhaps savoring the whole experience. Both options had their place. Neither was for Juliette. Not right now, at least.

She took one deep breath, took in the world. There was conversation and laughter from her classmates, girls filing out of the locker room, splashes from those few already getting started. The pool smelled of pool, and looked like it too. The plastic red and white lane dividers bobbed with the almost invisible current; Juliette always thought they looked like they should be covered in seaweed or barnacles, ready to coat her side with a sheen of slime. The lights had that quality that came only with fluorescents reflecting off too-sterile water. The tile depth markings at the bottom rippled with the liquid interference.

Juliette dipped the big toe of her right foot into the pool, and then slid entirely into the water before that first shock of wet and chill could fully register.

The coldness swept over her at once, neck to toes, and she bobbed her head down underwater, feeling her hair lift from her shoulders, feeling the clamminess caress her eyelids, her nostrils, her ears. Her muscles stiffened and tensed, her fingers and toes curled, goosebumps rose along her arms, and she resurfaced a second later with a gasp. It was really, really cold. Juliette crossed her arms over her chest like she was a pharaoh's mummy and trembled slightly, allowing the little movements to restore a tiny bit of warmth and circulation.

"It's refreshing," she said. "But it takes some warming up."
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Marceline smiled and flashed a thumbs up in Juliette's direction, as she climbed in the water.

Briefly, Marceline turned her attention to the newly arrived Teresa, as she lowered her arm to her side. "Yeah, of course, I'm always ready for this."

Turning her attention back to Juliette, she shouted to her new friend. "Yeah, that's the spirit!" She let out a light sigh, content with the situation at hand. "I think you could really enjoy the water if you just relaxed a bit, Julie Cooly. No need to be so worried about it, just take in the experience, feel the water lapping at your skin, the feel of everything slowing down along with your heart rate."

She closed her eyes in an effort to more viscerally feel the sensation of being in the water. "Feel the push and pull of the fluid as you press against it and it presses against you. Feel the water cling to your skin as you lift an arm out of it, feel it tug on your hair as you move."

"It's honestly really fun," she mused. "To me it almost feels like home, gets me relaxed in a way that not a lot of things do. I think it could do the same for you, Julie Cooly, if you just gave it a chance."
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Yugikun
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So here she was. Struttin' around the pool. This girl here got out kinda early so she decided to like, pace around and do stuff. Wait for other peeps to come out. Once they showed herself, she'd make her choice. Figure out who the coolest person to hang with for today would be. She sorta knew already - been a while since she'd been in another PE class, would be really fuckin' weird if she didn't know everyone by now - but hey, maybe someone else here would be appealin'. Maybe she might just hang around some other people today. People that this girl right here could have some a lil' bit of fun with.

People like Juliette and Marcy, for example.

She could see the two of em' near the edge of the pool, Marcy already gettin' herself wet. She knew the two from around school - sorta hard not to really. Marcy was wanna those kinda people who this girl sorta saw as a little kindred - wasn't into parties like she was, but hey, girl was fun and girl was loud, not a lotta difference between the two of 'em. Juliette was like, the wannabe politician she always saw on the walls. Always wanted to look proud, always wanted to look pristine, always wanted to look, like, as good as possible just so that she could get everyone else's votes when the polls came. Was sorta like, really evident just lookin' at her now. Makeup, hair, nail polish, yeah. Girl was dressed to impress. Girl brought the wrong kinda look to the school pool.

But hey, that didn't matter too much. Fact that Miss Starling over here meant that this girl right here could have a little fun.

And hey, if she just gave a little push, then this day would def be one to remember.

She took a couple steps over to the two of them. Stopped in front of Julie, the girl's back facing the pool. Tried to figure out what next to say, for a lil' moment.

"Yo," she said, letting the word go long. "You guys ready?"




Welp.

So much for that plan.

Guess that meant that this girl had to do it another way.

She moved. Jumped. Cannonballed. Made sure that when she landed, she did so right next to Julie.

Prolly wouldn't do anythin' at this point, but hey, better than nothin'.
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Relax.

Marceline offered advice, and while Juliette doubted that it would be of much use to her, she took a deep breath. Be open-minded. Feel the water, the currents, the cool against her skin, try to pay attention to the beating of her heart and the flow of her blood. It was not so different from the techniques she used to find her center when she had to, techniques that had through constant use become so familiar she often didn't even realize she was deploying them. Seen like that, yes, perhaps there was something to say for the water.

The pool, on the other hand? Swimming for gym class? That was a whole different story. It was great if Marceline liked that—it would be hypocritical of Juliette to begrudge others their inexplicable interests; one of the beautiful things about humanity was the variety it came in and she knew that a lot of what fascinated her, Council and Holst and the literary world, would likely bore the majority of her peers to tears—but Juliette did not. She did not like the speed, the effort, the aerobic activity. She didn't like the way her breath came hard and raspy when she pushed herself, the way her swimsuit clung so tightly and always felt in danger of riding up, the way her vision was obstructed as her face turned to the side in a front crawl or dipped in and out of the water in a breaststroke. The backstroke was a little better on that front, but she had to keep her eyes fixed on the ceiling to avoid the distractions of her classmates and their own activities, the thoughts of the inevitable locker trip and shower at the end of it all.

She had closed her eyes as she listened to Marceline, so the tremendous splash took her completely by surprise, but she was also spared the split-second of anticipation that made such things so much worse. She couldn't react instantly or on pure instinct, though she came close. Juliette let her breath out at once, felt her heartbeat, which she'd been tracking in relation to the gentle lapping, spike right along with the tumultuous ripples. She blinked and saw a flash of Teresa, and then water dripped from her hair into her eyes and she blinked and blinked again to clear them, blinked in time with her hammering heart, wiped a hand over her face to brush her hair from her eyes and to reset her smile.

Juliette reached inside herself and pulled out laughter.

"You know," she said, "I think you're right. I think this will be fun."
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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Marceline closed her eyes as the water from Teresa's stunt splashed her in the face, before opening them up again and rapidly blinking.

The look on her face was initially unamused, but as Juliette began to laugh, Marceline soon found herself beginning to smile, before she began to laugh too. If someone with as much trouble relaxing as Juliette could take nonsense like that in stride, Marceline definitely could too.

"Aw man, I'm glad you're starting to enjoy yourself, Julie Cooly. It's nice. I know we've never talked before, but helping people be a little bit happier has always been something I've liked. Well, that and pranking them. Maybe also scaring them a little bit too..."

She trailed off, tapping her bottom lip with her index finger. She ran her fingers through her hair, before slipping into the pool next to Teresa and Julie.

"Might as well join you guys."
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The cold of the water enveloped her. Hit her like a slap to the fuckin' face.

Then it went. Quickly as it just came. She'd emerged from under the water, opened her eyes, and the cold was gone, just like that. Sorta like, totally forgotten in the midst of the fact that wow, Miss Starling over here was like, totally unshakable or somethin'. Seriously. This girl had just like, ruined Juliette's makeup but here she was, just laughin' it off as if it was nothin'. Was she like, dead inside a'somethin'? That was the only reason this girl could think of as ta why she wasn't bothered. How this girl being here and doin' shit was apparently like, totally fine. Nothin' Miss Starling over here had to worry about. A blip on her radar, at the very best.

She frowned, slightly. Felt a little bit of a buzz in her head, for a moment.

...

Pushed it back. Felt it disappear. Oh well, she figured. It didn't need to bother her much. Gym class was still goin', would be for a while yet.

She still had her chance at gettin' Miss Starling's goat.

Just had ta do somethin' a little stronger.

She turned her head to look at Marcy. Giggled. Moved her body so that her legs were against the pool wall.

"Alright then, let's gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo."

She kicked the wall. Sent her body swimmin'. Pushed herself closer to the centre of the pool.
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