Instead of Swimming Sideways, I choose some dialogue from The Ugly Truth:
In this scene, a contrite Seth tries to apologize to an angry and bitter Gabe:
“What is this?” Gabe asks. He looks around me as though looking for something specific. “I kind of thought maybe it was a trap. Thought you might bring a mob here to take me out.”
I stop several feet from him. “Yeah. That sounds my style.”
“Especially with a girl involved.” His words feel like acid burning holes through my confidence. I have no witty rejoinder, no quick comeback to deflect his anger. His mention of what caused the Freak Challenge and now Abby sets me on edge.
I hold my hands up. “Just me.”
“That must have been a pretty nasty reconstruction of your face,” he says.
“Soccer,” I lie.
“Still hitting you then?” Gabe says. He stuff his hands into his pockets. “And you’re still lying about it.”
“Look. I told you that in confidence,” I say.
“Yeah. Like I told you my history in confidence.”
I look down at my feet and then away from him. He’s right. I used his history against him to start the Freak Challenge. I ignore the jab. “So why did you go to Mr. Robinson?”
“Wasn’t my idea,” he says confirming my suspicion. “For some reason, you had the concern of a rather nice girl who was sincerely worried about you. I don’t know what the hell for.” His tone is bored. He pushes some loose asphalt near his foot with the toe of his shoe. I notice differences from the last time we’d spoken. He’s taller, more muscular. His hair is darker and longer. It’s curly now that it’s grown out. He stares at me with those icy eyes that are always so disconcerting.
He said had the concern not have. This is a knife in my chest.
“She shouldn’t have done that,” I say.
“She seemed to think that the beatings were getting worse.”
I look out at the fence that runs the perimeter of the school. I don’t feel like talking to him. “Doesn’t matter.”
“Don’t,” I say and clench my jaw. Anger is a sprite igniting fires inside me. I don’t want his concern even if it isn’t direct. I don’t deserve it.
“Don’t what? Ask? Give me a break. I think I’m being pretty polite given the circumstances.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. No love lost. I get it.”
He pushes away from the car. I’ve pushed his button. “Do you, Seth?”
I’m not prepared to fight him, wouldn’t be able to with all of the injuries I’ve sustained. I change the subject.“I just came to ask you not to go sharing my information with anyone,” I finally say. “I don’t need my dad catching wind of it. I got a little over a year left and then I’m out. I need out.”
He mocks me with a laugh and a smirk.
I take a deep breath. “I know it doesn’t mean much, but I’m sorry. Sorry for what I did.”