I’ve come to love the silence. When I was human, noise always meant Apollo was around. Silence was in short supply. Even his smile was loud.
We met in the pool. That’s not a euphemism or anything: I was a competitive swimmer. He claimed he was training with Coach Gattis, but I wouldn’t have put it past him to have nabbed an extra pair of swim trunks from an open locker.
When I finished my laps, I put my hands up to my forehead and wiped the chlorinated water back from my face. I opened my eyes and his white teeth gleamed in front of me, like glare reflecting off the ocean.
“You’re Daphne. Hi,” he said, offering me his hand to shake. I’ll admit I was attracted to him at first. The shadow of beard that circled his full lips. The sheen of his dry hair— he obviously hadn’t been swimming. The oyster shell necklace that perfectly set off his olive complexion.
I ignored his hand. “You’re in my way.”
“That is unfortunate. I suppose my best course of action, then, is to extricate myself from your path.” He turned away from me. A midday sun shone bright between his shoulder blades. He grabbed the ladder with both hands and flexed his biceps. Then, he slowly stepped up, revealing a slick, black Speedo with a small thunderbolt pattern. He turned his head to the side, slant of nose, jut of chin. “You didn’t ask, but I’m Apollo. I’ll see you around, girl,” and then his laughter filled the natatorium like someone playing a vibraphone.
I know. Ridiculous.
For the next few weeks, he’d catch up with me either in the pool or in the parking lot of the gym. He always started with flattery. Lame stuff that still felt good, even though they were obviously practiced. One day he said “I’m going to start calling you Sharpie, ‘cuz you extra fine.”
“Dude. If that’s the best you got, you need to recalibrate your suavé.”
“I can’t help it, luscious, that swimmer’s body of yours drives me wild.”
“You have to know by now that I’m training for Rio.”
“The Olympics. You know, 2016? The only relationship I’m looking for right now is with a gold medal.”
After that he wouldn’t let up. I guess he thought I’d challenged him and he wasn’t the type to refuse. Every time he saw me, he’d tell me about some new girl he was seeing. Then he’d say something like, “You know, I wouldn’t have to bore you with these stories if you’d just give me a chance. I’ll treat you like a goddess.” Why couldn’t he just accept that I wasn’t interested? After about a month of that syrupy crap, I asked my dad to step in.
Dad came to the gym and cornered him in the men’s locker room. Told him to leave me alone. Most guys would step off after that. My dad’s pecs stick out in front of him like the prow of a ship. Plus he has this goatee that flows from his chin like a river, biker-style. But Apollo just shook his head and said, “I can’t. She’s the only one that got away.”
The next time I saw Apollo he convinced me to go down to the sauna for a steam. Once inside, he gave me a laurel branch made of gold. Told me it was his promise to quit playing games. He seemed sincere when he slipped out of the wood-tiled room, so I didn’t listen for the click of the lock.