Ochako was talking non-stop today.
She chatted all the way to Momo’s house, then talked all the way through the study session - albeit short because everyone just wanted to go outside and enjoy the pool. She also somehow managed to delay lunch and even made everyone wait for a whole two hours before getting into the water - an idea that got approving nods from both Iida and Momo.
But now her heart wouldn’t calm down. There was nothing else she could do to avoid what was coming. She could feel herself starting to sweat as she slowly removed her loose blouse and shorts, stalling. And it wasn’t because she felt insecure about her figure or anything like that.
The truth was Ochako had a bit of a secret: technically, she had never learnt how to swim. So, technically, she only really knew how to float, kicking widely to try and maintain her head above the water. And that was it.
She was embarrassed, to say the least. She swallowed nervously as she watched most of her male classmates run towards the pool while discarding their shirts and flip-flops as they went, barely taking a breath before diving in, splashing water everywhere, while the girls spent a little bit more time to taking off their clothes.
Now, Ochako usually managed to remain seated in the shallow part of the pool by playing with one of her younger cousins or saying she was tired from lunch to swim around. Except for her parents, no one in her family seemed to know exactly why she never ventured forwards, towards the deep end of the pool. The fact that they usually went to public pools and those were always crowded helped her to hide her secret for so many years.
However, there was no shallow end here. Momo had one of those infinity pools; the whole thing was raised and you had to walk up a little ramp or climb a few steps before going in. There was even a freaking deck area on the side with plenty of chairs and recliners that was as long as the pool!
Ochako climbed onto the deck, walked all the way to the edge of the pool and looked across. Objectively, it probably looked amazing, but Ochako couldn’t admire the scenery because she was simply terrified. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew there was a wall that held all the water in but, as she looked back down, she couldn’t even bring herself to sit down and put her feet in.
She could feel herself growing more and more anxious. And she was actually scared, now that she was so close to the rest of her classmates, that someone might either push her in by accident or as a joke.
Ochako was shaking but, with the sun shining brightly, no one would believe her if she were to say that it was because she was cold. She slouched a little and wrapped her arms around herself, trying to conceal how bad it really was.
Just then, she heard someone swimming towards her.
“Ochako-chan, are you not getting in?” Tsuyu asked, her head tilted to the side and her eyes observing Ochako’s expression as it relaxed slightly. This was Tsuyu. She wouldn’t judge her if Ochako told her the truth.
“Yes, it’s just...” Think, Ochako, think! Just because Tsuyu was understanding, it didn’t mean she would confess her secret now! Other people could overhear. “It’s just that, you know how the water is always cold when you first go in? I-I don’t want to be cold.” She pointed at the ladder not that far away from them and added a laugh at the end for good measure.
Tsuyu didn’t say anything and instead climbed out easily, ignoring the ladder and just relying on her ability to cling to walls. Ochako looked at her quizzically, not knowing what the other girl was up to.
“Here, take my hand, Ochako-chan,” she said, offering her palm to Ochako. “We’ll go in together and you won’t even feel the cold.”
Ochako looked from Tsuyu’s hand to the calm expression on her face and back down at her hand. Then, Ochako swallowed down her fears and stood up with her back straight, grabbing onto Tsuyu’s hand firmly.
“Let’s do this!” she practically shouted.
“One... two... three!” they counted together and jumped in.