Barefoot in the grass. Paul and Katy stood looking at the large silver plaque they had won, hanging proudly above the fireplace in the family home. Katy loved reading the inscription under their names. “When most flock with the crowd, there are a few who dare to create a path of their own.” Katy still couldn’t believe their luck. It was two weeks earlier when they had won the prestigious award and the $10,000, which had paid off their parent’s mortgage on the farm. They had sprinted to the finish line first and second, fifty yards ahead of any other competitor. The two kilometre track around the grassed racecourse had been a breeze to run on, but keeping ahead of the well-known competitors was a different matter. They had been running at a mild pace for most of the race, just keeping up with all the others, then on the last lap they had sprinted ahead of them and kept the lead. The siblings had worked out their strategy for the race over the last few days and after training alongside the others they knew their strengths and weaknesses. Their strategy had paid off. The crowd had at first gasped and gone very quiet, but then they burst into rapturous applause as they realised not only had the young siblings outran all the elite athletes, but they had also ran the race barefoot! They carried them on their shoulders to the podium to receive their plaque and the cheque, and they were whisked away to their Motel, where they showered, changed and went to a night at an expensive restaurant put on in their honour. The siblings watched in awe at all that was happening. They enjoyed the night out and the fantastic meal and thanked everyone for their generous well-wishes. The next day they booked their flight back home. It was lovely being here, it was great to win the race and the money, but they were both homesick, and longed to be back on the family farm with their parents. Their parents had always urged them on, and now their Mother was so proud she told everyone she met about her wonderful children. The siblings had kept every copy of the newspapers since the very beginning, when they had first entered the competition. The stories followed their journey from start to finish, and nick-named them “The Barefoot Babes” in the latest edition, but that had not always been the case. Early on when they had first entered, the people who ran the race wanted nothing to do with them. When they fronted up to the judges to sign up for the race, one thing they were asked was. “What sort of trainers will you be wearing?” “We don’t wear trainers, we race barefoot.” Paul answered. “You can’t race without trainers! This is a prestigious city racing track, not an outback gravel road!” They were told. Paul had made sure to read all the rules and regulations. “And where does it say that in the rules?” he asked. The judge gave him a glare and stomped off to speak to the others. After a lot of debate among the judges, they finally conceded that they were allowed to race barefoot, and stamped their entries. As they trained on the beautiful, soft, lawn racing track for the next three days, the other competitors sneered and laughed at them, which only spurred them on to try harder, and made them more determined to win. They raced alongside the others watching every movement and picking up anything which could help them win. They had enjoyed their trip to the City in the aeroplane and their week stay in the expensive Motel. They had even found time to go to the zoo and the museum and art gallery, but most of their time was spent at the track. They made sure they ate well and were in bed asleep by 10pm every night, as they were up at 7am the next morning. When Katy had first seen the add in the newspaper asking for competitors to sign up, they thought they had missed their chance, as the papers were always a few weeks late. Looking at the date of the race they realised they had a month to sign up and train for the two kilometre race. Their parents had agreed the $10,000 prize would help them to keep the family farm, so had agreed to let them enter. They had firm belief that the siblings could win this race, and spent the last of their savings to book an aeroplane and pay for a few days at a Motel. The siblings loved living on their parent’s cattle farm in the small outback town. Their only communication with the outside world was a helicopter which arrived once a fortnight, bringing ordered groceries and supplies, and also any mail and newspapers or periodicals ordered. The small community of farmers and their families got together a few times a year, for Christmas Church celebrations, a picnic on Christmas Day and sometimes a picnic race day. The race day included races for children, teens, adults and camels as well as fun races for families. Most of the children went barefoot on the picnic days, and only wore shoes for special occasions like going to Church, as they wore out to quickly on the hard red earth. Paul and Katy always ran in the races and won quite a lot of them. Their father noticed how well they ran, and that they were getting better every year. “You’ll need to run in the adult’s races soon, you’re beating everybody else in your class. Shame you can’t win any money for all your hard work. We may not be able to hold onto the family farm for much longer, with this drought.” The siblings had dozens of ribbons and trophies cluttering their rooms, and were quite happy to win them, they had never thought about making any money by running. As the siblings would soon be turning 21, they often spoke about leaving home to “see the sights”. “I wonder if they have any races in the city, I bet we could beat them!” Katy would laugh. Katy and Paul had been born 12 months apart and were inseperable. They went everywhere together, and did everything together. Running around the farm barefoot from the moment they learnt to walk. Their parents always remarked about how fast they could run and joked about them running in the Olympics. They had no idea that 21 years later they would be running in the most prestigious race in the State, or that they would win, and be nick-named the “The Barefoot Babes!”

April 12, 2021 02:13

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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