Lost, again. He sat on the bench with the water dripping off his eyelashes. Tears or chlorinated H2O, it was hard to discern. He tuned out the cheers from across the pool and kept his eyes to the deck so he wouldn’t have to see the high fives and back-slapping. He had blown it, again. It was his fault, again. He’d let them all down, again. His confidence level was tanked, again. He had tried his best but somehow his best was never good enough. “Why, your brother would have made that turn quicker”, his Dad would say. “Timing is everything, and you just don’t have it, not like Sammy, nope, not like Sammy. He was a real sportsman”. Same ole song on a different day and he was so weary of the tune. Sports made you strong, sports made your status, sports made you a man.
Practice, practice, practice. It seemed like his life had been just one long endless practice. Do it quicker, do it smoother, kick harder, do it like your brother. God, how he had come to hate it all. It was bad enough it when he only swam in the singles, but now since he was on the relay, his unsuccessful efforts and his lack of talent were magnified boy times four. The guys never pointed their fingers or really ever said it was his fault, but then again, when his father was around, nobody could get a word in edgewise anyhow.
He waited till the rest of the team had started towards the locker room; trying to put off the inevitable. The imagined side glances from his mates, the platitudes of “chin ups” and “hang in there’s” from the parents waiting by the exits and the rah-rah declarations of the coach, “We’ll get um next week boys”. Slowly he stood and began his Bataan march to the showers.
He’d be glad when this latest endeavor, thrust upon him by his father, of being pushed into his late brothers shoes was over. Soon the the heat would dissipate and the coolness of fall would blow across the mountains. The pool would become closed for the year and he could put another sport behind him. Unfortunately, as one season ended another began. Maybe football would be different or even track and field or baseball in the spring. Maybe he would find his nitch and make his father proud. Maybe as he got older he would get stronger and the pain of his personal loss would grow weaker. Maybe he wouldn’t feel so lost…..again.
it Away, Tuesday:
The only rule: start your flash with the above sentence.