Frank nearly slipped on the wet tiles as he leaned through the shower curtain. His sore fingers found the hot water knob and he turned it to full blast. He added just enough cold water to temper the already steaming pool beginning to fill the oblong tub.
As he straightened, his back screamed. The tight knots and cramps of worn muscles wracked against his spine and shoulders. Bruises and splotches of purple from the inevitable falls and crashes were already spreading across his bare lower legs. He cocked his neck from side to side, sending pops that rose above the splashing faucet.
Before he could start stripping out of the clinging uniform coated in corporate sponsorship, the phone began to ring.
He glanced down at the tub, barely a quarter of the way full.
With a wince he left the tap flowing and headed towards the bedroom. His legs bowed awkwardly. The haunting rhythm of the bike pedals flowed down each limb, making them want to circle and not step. He managed not to sink his sweaty form down onto the bed as he scooped up the receiver in a glove tanned hand.
“Hey,” he frowned and stared at the closed closet door as Joan’s hurried voice poured over the numerous state lines. “You alright?”
“Yeah, yeah.” He could hear traffic roaring behind her quick response.
“How did it go?”
“Um…” Her heavy breaths coursed into his ear, as if she was hurrying down the bustling city sidewalk.
“Oh, I can’t wait. They offered me the position.”
Frank felt his chest constrict like it did when he tried biking up Fremont hill. His knees wobbled as they struggled to keep him upright. His free hand thumped onto the closest door.
“Honey?” Joan’s rapid breathing had stopped. Traffic still rolled on in the background but Frank knew her frantic pace had slowed with worry.
“That’s great.” He winced and hoped it sounded genuine.
“Nothing, nothing…” He blew out a breath and forced his tense shoulders to relax. “It’s just surprising. And fast.”
“Yeah, I know. But it’s a great opportunity.”
“Yeah.” Frank nodded. He leaned his forehead against his supportive hand on the closest door. “So are you going to take it?”
“Well…” Joan’s voice trailed off into the countless conversations that had proceeded each prospective interview. “I’m not sure. I mean, I think we need to talk about it.”
“That’d be good.”
“Alright. I’ll see you at the airport tomorrow then?”
On the other end, Joan sighed. “Sorry. I wanted to tell you in person but…”
“No, it’s great news.” Frank managed a smile. “Really. Congratulations.”
He could feel her worry lines transitioning into a small grin that would be colored by blushing cheeks. “Thanks.”
“We’ll figure it out…ok?” He could feel the steel coming back into his voice and helping to steady his knees. The initial blow slowly wore off.
“See you tomorrow.”
Frank placed the receiver carefully back into the phone’s cradle. He let out a long exhale and pushed himself away from the closest. Options and consequences boiled in his mind in a cloudy mix of problems and opportunities. He raked his hands across his face and winced as his sore shoulders flared.
The pain was punctuated by a heavy, splattering sound. He blinked dumbly as he tried to figure out how water had anything to do with Joan’s potential new job.
His wandering gaze drifted over the bedroom and the clutter that would probably need to be packed as he searched for the source of the noise. His eyes widened at the sight of the soaking edge of the carpet beneath the bathroom door.