It’s that time again, the worst part of the year, a day I always dreaded - competing in Sports I couldn’t stand, in front of family and friends. Today was hot, very hot; as a big kid, taking part in our schools annual sports day, activity was the last thing on my mind. Sat in my classroom, I could see the caretaker, walking up and down the field, with one of those old-fashioned oil filled mowers. As usual, it kept stopping and starting, spluttering back into life; the smell of petrol fumes drifted into the class. I coughed as the vapour hit the back of my throat; eyes watering I asked to use the toilet. Standing in the lavatory, I was alone with my thoughts. Placing both hands on either side of the sink, I lowered my head, looking down towards the plug hole and sighed. Leaning over, my right elbow slipping down the side of the porcelain, I gently turned on the cold tap. Cupping my hands, I filled them with water, taking a sip, throwing the excess over my face; this was going to be a long day!
The classroom was buzzing, a hive of activity, everyone excited about the day ahead; everyone except me that is. I went and sat back down at my desk and finished putting on my PE kit. My teacher, looked over from the front of the class; I turned and looked away. Briefly glancing back, she smiled, stood up and walked over to where I was sitting. She knelt down on the floor and told me not to worry; straightening my legs, pulling up my crisp white socks. I took out a pair of new, untouched plimsolls from my bag and Mrs Brooks helped me put them on. Gently tapping the side of my leg, she encouraged me to stand up - shoulders back, chin up, it was just another day.
People were arriving outside, Mums, Dads, Brothers and Sisters, all lined up neatly behind the rope fence erected around the field. Classroom tables were placed at either end of the freshly cut grass, trophies and ribbons neatly arranged. It was time to go and make a fool of myself once again. Walking outside, I was in a dream, floating on air. I imagined myself far away, from the cheering crowds, all the while scuffing my feet along the floor, hunched back, head bowed, not looking ahead. I heard Mothers voice in the crowd and looked upwards, waving briefly, placing my arms down to one side, walking slowly across the field.
Sitting down I waited to be called - butterflies were fluttering unabated in my stomach. Fidgeting, scowling, I focused on my feet; then all at once, my name shouted from across the arena. Red-faced, I made my way towards the track - eight of us lined up side by side, none of us wanting to play our part. A sport for the afflicted, a competition for the physically challenged - the dreaded egg and spoon race. The whistle went, and I began the undignified crawl to the finish line with two left feet. Bumping into a fellow contestant halfway along the course, I fell to the ground, grazing my knees, grass stains adorning my shorts. All the while the whole school looked on, fixated on me, no one else, just little old me. Hobbling across the finish line, I was patted on the back by Mrs Brooks “never mind” she said, as I was presented with a green ribbon, for endeavour, for trying hard, to make me feel better, to ease the pain. Forever green, that was me, never red or blue, just plain old green; could do better, must try harder, there’s always a next time - I was invisible once again!
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