From my book about my life, marriage, separation & divorce. Track & field.
|Community Games: Cork Ireland, 2007.
The runners came around the bend, 200 metres to go, and just into view over the heads of the disorganised array of spectators standing in front of him. As long as he could stay precariously balanced on his tip toes Kevin could manage to barely see them approaching from his left. It proved too difficult a task. He resisted moving forward as best he could, then backwards, then forward again, but having been on the receiving end of one too many pushes from the surrounding throng, he lost his balance and cascaded forward, the force of his awkwardness creating a fjord-like gap into which he was swept and remarkably sailed to the front just in time to see Annie force her way through the deluge of competitors, her red pony tail bopping up and down, her tall frame towering above everyone else in the race, except for Kate. Sixth, fifth, and suddenly crossing the finish line, a chasm appearing between herself and second place. “She won! Yeah! I knew you would my girl!” exclaimed Kevin to the entire stadium. Kate crossed the line in a credible fourth place.
“Dad, I won! You were right, you knew I would! I won!” she exclaimed as he ran towards her, his broad smile only barely more obvious than the tears of joy welling up in his eyes. “Great girl, great job” he exclaimed as he hugged her tightly, “I told you, it’s the final now, look, your time is faster than anyone in the other two heats, by two seconds at least. Just run the same race again and it’s yours, don’t do anything different, just stay focused Annie, just stay focused.”
Still hugging his little champion he looked over her shoulder and occupying his entire field of vision, just inches from his nose was Kate. “Kate, fifth, fifth right. Well done. Well done. Come ‘ere, gimme a big hug” he said as he sidestepped Annie and embraced a forlorn Kate who once again didn’t live up to her own unrealistic expectation of beating her more athletic sister. However, she wasn’t going to let her father’s bad mathematics get the better of her efforts, “I was fourth Dad, fourth, not fifth, didn’t you see”?
“Sorry, yeah, I saw it Kate, you were marvelous, and you even beat that girl with the blond hair in blue, your first time beating her I think. Isn’t that right”?
“Can I buy some sweets Dad” was her reply as she hugged him so tightly he felt a piercing jolt of pain and thought that this time her fingernails surely made contact with his kidneys.
“Ouch! Eh... of course you can my Katey Pie, what do you want? And Annie, oh, Annie... where are you”? Annie was out of sight, probably celebrating with friends, hope she doesn’t forget the final is yet to come, he thought, as Kate clasped his hand and ushered him in the direction of the sweet shop which was only a short 20 meters away.
Annie leaned on the outside railing that surrounded the track and used it’s tautness to stretch her calf muscles. Her stretch-holding pose was an over-exaggerated copy of what she observed when her dad did it during his warm-up routine. Even her tense facial expression mimicked his.
She was standing only about 20 metres from the finish line but pretended not to notice the commotion as runners chased each other to the line. She was on a mission and needed to act ‘cool’ she told herself. Her race, the final, the stepping stone to fame and greatness, maybe the Olympics even. Her dad tried out for the Olympics but came up short. She could go one better. She believed she would.