Hi everyone. Since today is a Holiday here in Brazil, I bring the weekly dose of Cris and Nelson a bit early. Hope you like it.
The Swimmer and The Manager 6
I’m so out of shape, Nelson thought as he sat on the bench to slow down his breathing. Each breath he took hurt a little. Well, that’s expected. But to think it was this much… I’ve been jogging a little ever since the doctor let me, but I haven’t recover anything all this time… such short distance would never tire me before…
“You’re so out of shape!” Cris exclaimed bluntly as he sat next to the swimmer, looking at Nelson with a wide grin. “Guess swimmers really are like fish out of water when out of the pool.”
Nelson stared at him and then let out a laugh against his will. He ran a hand over his face to hide his smile. “That was a terrible joke. So terrible you should be ashamed of yourself and hide,” he said shaking his head, but there was still a smile forcing itself on his lips.
“And yet you can’t stop smiling,” Cris said, his own smile broadening.
“It was so bad I laughed how bad it was. Thanks,” Nelson added when Cris handed him a bottle of water. He drank half of it in one gulp. The swimmer cleaned his mouth with the back of the hand and then showed the bottle to Cris. “You should do stuff like this, you know? Be helpful, supportive and all with the guy you’re assisting, instead of, you know, being brutally honest about how out of shape I am.”
Cris placed his hand on the chin and narrowed his eyes, pretending to be in deep thought. “You’re right. I should be more helpful,” he said after a while. Then his serious expression changed back into the mocking one with a cheerful smile. “But it’s more fun tease you!”
“Glad to know you’ll be making fun of me from now on,” Nelson said, trying to put some fake anger in his voice. But when he saw Cris’ grin, he knew he had failed.
“Oh, come on. I rather be honest. Besides,” his expression turned serious, and not the fake one, “you might hear a lot worse when you return to the pools, right? So isn’t better to hear now from someone you has your best interest at heart?”
Nelson opened his mouth, give up and let out a sigh. He drank the rest of his water in silence. “You’re right,” he said after a while with a sad smile. “I’m too out of shape, even though I’ve been working out for a while. I can’t argue against the harsh truth. Especially when given in such way for someone who has my best interest at heart.”
Cris picked up on the mocking tone. “I do! Believe me, I’d never wake so early for anyone else.”
“And I’m still grateful for the once in a lifetime offer,” Nelson said, bowing his head. But when he raised his eyes, he was smiling again. “But I still think you should be gentler. I may look like this but words can break my heart.”
“More like you break many hearts,” Cris mumbled. Then he took the empty bottle from Nelson’s hand and replaced it with a sports drink. “Instead of gentler, I rather help you with stuff like this.”
“Guess I can compromise with this.” Nelson drank almost half in one gulp.
“So athlete Nelson,” Cris spoke to his closed fist, pretending to be a microphone, “how do you feel about your comeback?” He moved his hand closer to Nelson’s mouth.
Nelson looked between the hand and Cris’ face. “Well, if I have to be honest… I feel like crap at the bottom of the well.”
Cris tried to hold it, but soon he laughed. “Well, that’s expected, I guess, but you know there’s a good thing about that, right?”
“Really? And what’s that?” Nelson looked at Cris with disbelief. “I’d like you to tell me, since I can’t see it at all”
“There’s nothing to go but up!” Cris screamed with a huge smile.
Nelson stared at that smile and couldn’t help but chuckle weakly. “You can also help me by being optimistic like that,” he said in a low voice.
“Today’s a special occasion. It’ll be troublesome for me if you think I’m like this all the time. Especially when you see my real personality,” he said, his smile turning sly.
The swimmer let out a weak chuckle. “Well, I’ll meet your real personality in the future. But even so, I wish felt like you. Optimistic about this…” Nelson’s smile grew thin as he looked down. “Actually, I’m afraid… I’m praying from the bottom of my heart there’s an up for me…”
Cris stopped smiling. He stayed in silence as he stared Nelson’s face. After a moment, he leaned forward. “I know we just met but I’m here for you,” he said in a low voice.
Nelson raised his head and turned to the man he had met the previous night. He looked at that face that usually had a smile. Now Cris showed a worried expression, ready to listen whatever he said. The swimmer hesitated for a moment, but then the words came out of him.
“I think I’m being too greedy. I… I should’ve died in that accident, but I didn’t. That was a miracle. Then I should’ve lost my legs, but I didn’t. Then the doctors said I might lose the movement on them. But here I am,” Nelson said, burying his face in both hands. “Swimming at the same level as before should be a miracle too, but am I not running out of miracles? What if the MRI shows I can’t ever go back to the pool? I know I’m being greedy, but I can’t help it… I can’t lose the pool… without it I’m… I don’t know what I am…”
Before he noticed, Nelson was crying in his hands. Cris waited in silence, the sound of cries echoing between them.
“You’re not being greedy,” he said after Nelson finished crying. The swimmer raised his head and looked at him. “And even if you think that, in this case, you’re allowed to be. You’re not taking nothing from anybody. It’s your goal, your dream, so there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“You think so?”
“Yes! And if someone complains, you say that I allowed you to be greedy,” Cris said with a confident smile that got a chuckle out of the swimmer.
“But… what if I really can’t get back on the water?”
Cris stared at Nelson with a gentle smile. “Then you’ll feel lost for a while. Perhaps a long time. But maybe you’ll find another path. Even if it’s not in the pool, even if not as an athlete, there’s a lot you can do.”
“You’re… right.” Nelson sighed and leaned back on the bench, watching the pale sky. “You say that with so much confidence it’s almost like you’ve been on my spot.”
“I have…” Cris grew silent as he stared at the ground. “To be honest, I am in the same situation right now.…”
Nelson looked at him. The gentle smile had disappeared, and now Cris’ eyes seemed out of focus. The swimmer understood and waited.
“You know my family so you probably know our history. Everyone who’s born with the Prado Maranhão surname already come into this world with great expectations on them.” Cris’ voice was low, but it carried all his frustration. “We go into the pool as soon as we can, trying many sports until we find the one that suits us. Even if we don’t have any talents or want to pursue something other than sport, they expect that we work with something related to water. If someone wants to be a doctor, they should aim to be part of the medical staff. If it’s related to business, then it will be helping the administration. Even minor things, like coordinating the teams, helping with makeup, designing swimsuit… If you’re born with the Prado Maranhão surname, you’re expected to be near the pools for your entire life…”
The same way Cris had listened in silence, Nelson did the same.
“Do you hate?”
“More than love or hate, it’s complicated… I told you I’m the family black sheep, didn’t I?” Cris closed his eyes and leaned back on the bench. Nelson mumbled a low yes. “It’s because I’m not looking for anything related to water for my future.”
“What do you mean? Aren’t you managing me right now?”
Cris let out a hollow chuckled. “That’s not enough for a Prado Maranhão.”
“Have you tried all the water sports?”
“I have. I swam for a long time. But when I realized I had no talent, nor the willpower to overcome that with sheer determination, I tried other sports. Water polo was the worst. I kept getting hit in the face,” he said, wincing as he massaged his nose. Then he shook his head to dismiss the memories. “I have no strength for Canoeing. Diving was way fun but soon I learned I liked it more as a play. The one I liked the most was synchronized swimming, but I think it was more those cute swimsuits than the sport per say.”
“So why they consider you the black sheep? I mean, you tried, no one can say you didn’t. But if those sports didn’t wake a passion in you, there’s no meaning in keep going. Being a professional athlete isn’t something you can do without much determination.”
“I couldn’t agree more. But the real problem was last year, when I graduated high school. My grandma wanted me to go to business school like my dad and help with the club’s finances and such. Just because I’m kinda good with math, doesn’t mean I’m good with money. When I told her that, she asked what I wanted to be, but I… I froze. I mean, I’m barely an adult. How the hell should I chose what I wanna be? I had no idea then and even now I don’t know. So I stayed as a manager. No one agreed with my choice. Everyone just keeps pushing me to choose something befitting of a Prado Maranhão.”
When Cris finished, he was a little out of breath, his cheek red. He took deep breathes as the silence grew between the two men. Nelson looked at his personal manager who gazed at the sky with unfocused eyes.
“So you’ve been where I am… standing before the void of uncertainty,” Nelson said with a thin smile. Cris turned to him.
“Maybe that’s why they put us together,” he said, mirroring Nelson’s smile. “The black sheep and the former prodigy.”
“That former prodigy hurts more than you think, you know? Even though it’s the truth, I was once known as the future of Brazil’s swimming.” Nelson raised his chin and puffed his chest to show how proud he was, even though he felt the opposite right now.
“In my duty as your manager, and someone who prefers saying the truth, I need to tell you to focus on the future, not the past,” Cris told with confidence.
“The future, huh?” Nelson stared at Cris. “You’re right.”
“Hey, don’t make that face. I’m here for you. Ask me anything.”
“Anything?” Nelson repeated.
“Yes. I won’t go back on my word… most of the time,” he muttered the last part, averting his gaze with a yellow smile.
Nelson looked at that face, at that smile for a while. “Then could you be with me during my exam today?” the words got out of his mouth to his own surprise. He widened his eyes and before he realized, his cheek turned pink and he averted his gaze
“You want me to be with you?”
His own words had surprised him, but when Nelson thought about them, he knew it them to be true. Without looking at Cris, he nodded. “Yes… please,” he whispered.
Cris placed both hands on Nelson’s face and turned to him, showing a gentle smile to the swimmer. “With pleasure.”
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed the chapter.
If you don’t wanna miss any chapter, sign up to my newsletter
If you like The Swimmer and the Manager, you can support it on Patreon
See you next Thursday
Ah,I don’t know if you know, but I’m writing the first draft of Please Call Me Teacher! 2 and posting some sneak a peek on my Patreon.