Small World: Chapter 14

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
This chapter will feature a new character named Mae.

Submitted: February 15, 2015

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Submitted: February 15, 2015

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Mae: Build Me Up, Break Me Down

The year was 2000. I was five years old. I sat on my father’s lap as we watched Olympic gymnastics on the TV that was being aired in Sydney, Australia. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched full-grown men and women maneuver their body with ultimate balance, power, grace, and control. I thought they were superhuman and that what we were watching wasn’t real! My father insisted that the men and women on the TV were just like me but older, and that if I ever wanted to do what they were doing I could, but it would take hard work.

I objected angrily: this is fake daddy! There is no way I could ever do that!

I studied my father’s reaction closely as he raised his eyebrow and began to grin the way he always has. He moved his face closer to mine and looked deep into my eyes and said: “Mae, never let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something. Not me, not your mother, and not even yourself. If you really want something, and I mean really want it more than anything in the world, anything is possible.

The genuine, serious tone of my father’s deep voice reassured me and encouraged me.

I wanted to believe!

For the next few days I would watch the gymnasts on TV and try to copy what they were doing in my living room. I would repeatedly fall over and bump my head on the coffee table, or knock over my mother’s lamp or angel figurines. It didn’t take long for me to quickly become frustrated and approach my dad in protest: “I’ll never be able to do this!” I would bellow.

My dad then came down to my level by kneeling on one knee and said: “if you are serious about this Mae, I will sign you up for gymnastics tomorrow morning, but if you end up giving up because it is “too hard”, it will be very difficult for me to believe you the next time you tell me you really want to be able to do something”.

He then went on to explain that it was going to take a long time, and it was going to take hours of hard work, frustration, and even pain, but if I put one hundred percent of my effort into it and had patience, I would improve everyday, and in time I’d be able to do what I was seeing on the TV.

He was right about the hard work, he was right about the frustration, and he was right about the pain. But more importantly he was right when he told me if I was determined that I would improve everyday.

The first few weeks were tough, but most of the kids were the same age as me, and interestingly enough, I proved to be naturally proficient in many of the beginner exercises that we were doing. I had the best balance in the class by far, and was easily top three performing floor routines.

It took years of work before I could actually do some serious work on the rings, or even lift my bodyweight for more than ten seconds for that matter, but when I finally managed to make some progress it was all worth it!

The rings were what I first saw that caught my attention and inspired me to become a gymnast!

Fast-forward to grade nine, and I was becoming one of the most proficient female gymnasts in the province of Ontario at my age level on the rings, and my father was always there to cheer me on. The rings were my passion, and I was determined to perfect them. I didn’t want to just be good; I wanted to be the best in the world!

Everything in life is coming together and I couldn’t be happier. My goal is to earn the opportunity to represent Canada as a gymnast in the Olympic games, where I could inspire other little girls who were just like me!

On Fridays I always have practice right after school and don’t usually end up getting home until around seven thirty. Unlike my friends, I don’t go out to parties because I’m focused on my gymnastics and don’t want any outside distractions.

On most Friday nights when I get home I usually just eat dinner, do homework, stretch, and then take a nice bubble bath, relax, and read a book in the tub. I follow this routine religiously to relax my body and mind in preparation for Saturday practices, which are often brutal and take a lot out of me.

I finish up my homework when I get home and my mom and dad are both still at work, so I decide to have my bath.

I got new bath oil last weekend, and as I start to run the bath I can smell the aroma of fresh sweet berries in the air as the oil mixes with the hot water.

Once the bath is filled I take off my clothes and carefully submerge my body in the blissful bubbles and warm water.

I never completely fall asleep in the tub, but I get relaxed to the point where I feel as if I very well could. As I lay here in the silence I nearly jump out of the tub when I hear the sudden shriek of the phone ringing. It reminded me of that feeling of falling you get when you are dreaming and then you suddenly wake up and your whole body spasms as a reaction.

I think about getting out and trying to go and get the phone, but I figure I won’t make it in time anyways, so I just let the machine get it.

It’s not out of the norm for me to be alone on most nights during the week. Both my mom and dad often work late. My mom is a registered nurse and is always on call and has random shifts. I rarely see her.

My dad is a lawyer and often stays late at the office trying to get extra work done on his cases.

I wasn’t too concerned until the phone immediately started to ring again only seconds later. The call must be urgent, because they didn’t even wait for the message on our answering machine to finish for them to record a message; they just took a chance and called back again. The first call shook me out of my daze, but I wasn’t too worried. The second call started to make me uneasy and I suddenly had a wave of worry wash over me that made me think something was wrong.

Again, after the answering machine picked up, no message was left. I sit here quietly and listen intently like a rabbit would listen for predators.

RING!

After the third ring I know there is something wrong. I jump out of the tub, grab a towel and run out of the bathroom and down the stairs still soaking wet to grab the phone off the receiver. Panting, I answer the phone: “Hello?”

On the other end I hear the sound of someone gasping for air. I can hear fidgeting in the background.

I repeat myself: “Hello?”

The voice on the other end finally answers me in a barely audible, shaky voice, “Hi sweetie”. “

“Dad”? I apprehensively reply.

The voice on the other end struggles to talk, but manages to say, “Mae, I don’t have a lot of time” between coughs and desperate gasps for air. I feel my heart sink, tears well in my eyes, and a lump beginning to form in my throat. “Dad! Are you there? What’s wrong?!”

“I’m so sorry princess, I love you so much”.

“NO! Dad! What’s wrong! Where are you? What’s going on?” I cry into the phone.

“Daddy’s had an accident sweet pea; a bad accident.” I can hear him coughing uncontrollably and choking from trying to talk. 

“A truck driving in front of me had bails of hay loaded, but they weren’t properly secured. One of the bails fell off the back of the truck and bounced into the other lane on the highway and slammed into an oncoming car. When I looked back towards the truck the rest of the bails followed the first. I swerved out of the way of the first one, but got hit by the next one. I had nowhere to go. I’m stuck in the car, and the roof is caved in. I think I may have cracked my ribs, and I think the airbag broke my nose… it’s hard to breathe.”

“No, no, no, no, no! Dad, please! You’re going to be okay! Don’t leave me, I need you! I love you so much!”

“I love you too princess”. I can hear sniffles in the background as I sit in a puddle on the hardwood floor, soaking wet with tears flowing freely down my face. This is the first time I’ve ever heard my dad cry in my entire life. It breaks my heart and I begin to wail uncontrollably, so hard that it hurts me a pain that is so intense I can’t even try to describe it.

“Don’t cry princess. Remember what I told you when you were five?”

In a struggle to breathe, I sniffle and quietly respond, “Yeah”.

“What did I tell you?”

“That I could do anything I wanted,” I manage to whisper through my ongoing sobs.

“You still can princess. I want you to know that I am so proud of you. You have worked so hard your entire life, and you never give up, even when times are tough. I need you to promise me something.”

I can hear his voice fading. He is barely audible and I cover my other ear to help hear his voice.

“What?” I whisper back.

“Never change princess. You are strong, determined, and don’t let anything get in the way of achieving your goals. I want you to be happy.”

“I’ll always be here princess. I love you...”

His voice fades out and all I can hear is the soft and quiet sound of white noise coming from the broken signal of his radio.

I lay naked in a cold wet ball on the floor with the phone by my face. I rock back and forth quietly with my eyes closed, and slowly everything begins to fade away into the darkness.


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