I bounded up the bleachers barefoot, my hair still dripping wet from the last race, to where everyone's parents would sit and watch. I had won first place in backstroke and third place in butterfly stroke. It wasn't a huge swim meet, and it was a home meet, but I still hoped they'd be proud.
When I couldn't find them, I scanned the area again, ready to show off, ready for praise. My teammates' parents were already there, hugging their kids, getting ready to head home. Mine were probably just late.
I sat down and waited for what felt like an hour. After a few minutes, I decided to go and check the lobby.
As I walked out of the pool area, the comforting scent of humid chlorine was replaced with the cold, hard air. The change shrank my lungs. I stood by myself and watched more parents leave with their kids, who still bounced from the races. Then lobby was empty.
Breathing hurt, though I'm not sure if it was the fear or the air. I began to shake, sitting there on a bench, looking out the door.