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Coming of Age Creative Nonfiction

I looked at the Kapooka training grounds, a layer of mist still coating the early morning ground. My group was finishing our last lap as two officials dressed in their proud looking uniforms signalled for us to follow them. A frown creased my face when I saw large navy-blue ropes suspended from huge wooden beams, a soft gasp left my pursed lips. It was a huge jump from each rope, I couldn’t do that it was impossible. "This course is one of the hardest, and we want to see all of you try this, of course, some of you..." He eyed me. "Will not complete this, we do not accept failure." Hushed whispers of fear and excitement ran through the group. "You have until 1200 hours," he snapped as he walked back to the building in the distance. The other official looked up from his clipboard. "Well, what are you waiting for, a red carpet, snap to it lads!" 

I tried to hold on to the moment, but it wouldn't stay. It tunnelled back through time and burst up at the cricket club 10 years prior, it was the second Saturday of the year and I was dressed in my cricket whites, excited for my first game of the year- in my new team. I hadn't met them yet but I was brimming with eagerness. "Ferny Green U12's over here with me!" I practically ran over to him, my assumed new coach. "Hello sweetie, are you lost?" he metaphorically bent down and patted me on the head.

I looked at the ground my cheeks flushing in a rushed embarrassment. "I'm here to play" I mumbled in a slightly hurt voice.

"Name?"

"Andrea Redt"

"Oh," he replied, "I thought you were a boy," he told me in a mocking tone.

Our feet crunched on the cold dirt as we jogged towards the ropes.

I rolled my foot on its side as I waited for my turn. My fingers flexed unconsciously and I looked up towards the sweating trainee swinging athletically from rope to rope, gripping them as he grunted with effort. He came down of the course and everyone cheered, he smirked at me as he passed, and I stepped forward dreading what was about to happen. I made my way up to the course and my heart thudded against my chest. I stopped as my stomach twisted its self into knots, I stepped back, my foot crushing into the dusty dirt behind me. 

Tap Tap Tap, I look up, I look down, tap tap, I look up. I'm ready. I watch the bowler run in face red and sweaty. Focus Andrea, play straight. I blocked the ball, it hit my bat and flung off into the dry grass to my side, "she even hits like a girl" the keeper spat. 

The bowler paced out away from the crease and then spun around to face me, he springs into a fast jog and bowls the ball short. Too short. It smashes into my side, pain lurches into my body, I double over.

"Nice one, mate" mid-off called "bowl that one again and she'll go off crying" he teased. 

"Are you all right little girl- do you want to quit now?" the bowler jeered.

I gripped onto the rope trying desperately not to fall, I had four more jumps that's all I needed, I swung on the rope gaining more and more momentum until finally, I jumped. I lunged for the rope, hands outstretched in sudden hope. I knew I couldn't make it, my hands grazed the rope but didn't grip. I fell, plummeting to the ground still trying desperately to hold on, my vision blurred.

I remembered the feeling of my blood rushing to my temples, the tightness in the pit of my stomach as I toppled head first over the handlebars of my second-hand bike. The bike I had found lying inside that room lined with shelves of unused junk waiting for its next owner, the room with Vinnie's bins outside, in the tip. I remembered secretly bringing it home and hiding it in the bush next to the old shed. Adrenaline spiked through my body and then pain as I smashed into the ground. "You will never be able to make that jump- shouldn't you be inside playing with Barbies?" He mocked. I lay on the ground nursing my sores as I knew he was right, this wasn't my place. I lay sobbing on the ground my bike turned over next to me looking just as sad and despairing as I did. 

I lay on the cold dirt floor, pain spreading through my body. "You will never become a real soldier." 

"They won't let you pass." I groaned my side twisting in pain. Memory's flooding back into my head, I tried to fight them until reluctantly I got sucked back in.

"What the hell were you thinking?!"

"When will you learn, you're a girl." 

"You don't belong out here!" 

"You hit like a girl." 

"You will never be as good as us." 

I stopped, my train of thought hitting each other as I realised how wrong all these people were. How wrong I was. I will never be as good as them because I'm a woman, I will be better than them because I am me. My hands clawed at the dirt forcing myself back up, just like every time they tried to push me down. 

I returned to my crease, a determined look plastered on my face, tap-tap, I am ready. The bowler ran in trying to deliver the same ball. I leaned backwards and calmly extended my arms to smash the ball past all the fielders and over the boundary. I heard my teammates cheering. 

I got back up pulling my bike along with me, I jumped back on my bike, steadily pedalling towards the jump again. I pedalled harder, faster, and more determined to prove them all wrong. 

With this memory fresh in my mind, I got to my feet, shoulders relaxed and walked calmly back to the course. I didn't need to prove anything, I just wanted to beat them.

June 08, 2021 08:41

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Liz Redt
23:55 Jun 09, 2021

Please give me feedback so I can improve both my story and my writing.

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