Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Go

I was always the last kid chosen for teams.

I know, everybody thinks they were the last one… the kid who was left out, the kid who was different. But I really WAS the last kid, just standing there, wondering will someone pick me? Which team? Will I be last this time, or just second to last?

It didn’t help that our PE teacher actually once said those horrible, debilitating words: “Don’t throw like a girl.”

She was a mom of one of the boys in our class.

I wasn’t terrible at every sport. I was a fast runner. Really fast. I was often first in the Presidential Fitness tests. My dad was a runner, and that was one of our “things.” He was a Captain in the Marines, and was into Orienteering, too, so I even knew how to run through the woods navigating with a compass and map.

After he died, I started to get hives whenever I ran, whenever I was outside, whenever I was in a pool. Eventually, whenever I took a bath.

The hives got me out of PE.

I never went Orienteering again.

I remembered that last time he took me. I must have been ten. We went to a meet, and for the first time, he had me go into the woods by myself. We had done a practice run together, but then he set me loose.

I was so nervous. I’m sure I did fine–neither first nor last. But I was really disappointed in my performance. I was ashamed. I remember that sticky feeling in my mouth. I’d never experienced it before–must have been dehydration. I felt a little confused once I got into the woods, away from all the adults, away from my dad. How could I do this alone?

Somehow, I made it out. My time wasn’t too bad, looking back. But I was one of those kids for whom failure was anything less than perfect. I felt like I failed him.

Later, at home, he reassured me it was okay, it was my first time, I just wasn’t ready yet and we would practice. He was so comforting. He made me feel better.

We never had a chance to go Orienteering again; he died a few months later in a freak military accident.

I broke into hives whenever we went to the base.

For years, I looked back on that last run in the woods and thought about how I failed him. I thought about how many things we would never get to do together. I wondered if he was somewhere watching me, evaluating me, appreciating me.

I was different, alone, not like the other kids.


This was a response to a ten-minute writing prompt: Ready, Set, Go!

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Part of the solution since 1973.

12 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Go

    1. And right now, it’s taking me to lunch with a friend.

      I’ll ‘hook up’ with you later, but in the meantime, thank you for reading all these post… and lest you think I’m all gloom and doom, go check out XXX-Mas!

  1. This could have been me writing – except I didn’t tragically lose my father so young. WTF with the bitchy P.E. teachers? Is it a requirement for them to be like that? I was chosen last all the time too. It sucked.

    1. Shocking isn’t it?
      My sister had a PE teacher slap her across the face (and she had braces). She transferred schools right after.

      If only they had done yoga in PE class back then…

  2. My father died in a train when I was 10 and for years I couldn’t board one… Which is a problem in Europe! Now when I’m riding a train I feel like he’s sitting with me. Maybe you could imagine your dad is running with you so you won’t have a negative physiological reaction?

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