“Do you have all the bullets? We can’t afford to lose again. We have to make this our best effort yet.”
Mark was pacing as he always did before the final face off.
And as always, Karl was there to assure him. “Don’t worry, I’ve got them all.”
“Good,” Mark replied, punching his right fist into his left palm, “those imbeciles won’t know what hit them!”
Mark had always been too competitive for his own good. But even his partner, Karl, knew this was a pivotal point in their lives. If they win, they’d become the senior school debating champions.
“Gosh, look at the height of that thing. Looks like the twelve years of practice was for nothing. You’ll never make it.”
“I don’t think I’ll mess up.”
“Are you crazy? You’ll embarrass the whole country if you break down at the last minute. Oh, imagine the horror. Tell them you’re feeling sick. They can’t blame you—the fish was horrible last night.”
When her name rang through the loud speaker, Vanessa approached the pool with jelly legs. Before she knew it, she was poised for her Olympics qualifier.
At the whistle, she dove.
Astonished, her inner voice never surfaced.
Olympian pole vaulter
who leapt to heights
with passion as impetus
flopped back sprawling
mewling and crawling
as expectations bore down
“You need to control it,” Mark’s mother ranted while he observed himself in the mirror. He didn’t reply. It wasn’t the first time.
“If this continues, your reputation at work will deteriorate,” she continued despite his lack of expression. “Do something!” She concluded, irritated with his muteness.
Mark sighed before turning away. He was happy with his appearance—a lawyer’s coat suit him well. It was his hair that sprawled over his head, refusing to sit snug. Exasperated, he frowned at the tiny jar of hair gel on his dressing table. It’d cost a fortune, promising to “Tame that mane.”
Alicia’s counsellor remained impassive. It wasn’t the first time a child blamed an unsupportive family. But Alicia was different. She hadn’t attacked her parents or run away. She had, instead, hurt herself.
Her parents wanted a boy who’d bring home the Olympic dream. Alicia, however, had dreamt of bringing home the Pulitzer. When her father enrolled her for basketball, puny Alicia had to become athletic. With protein and unprescribed drugs for breakfast, she was ready in months.
Every time she dunked victory, she dunked her passion down, too. Now five years later, banned for drug abuse, Alicia dreamt no longer.