I have PE first period. If I were a vampire, seven fifteen would be the end of a long day of sucking. But since I'm me, there's ever-so-much suckage to go.
My polyester shorts itch as I sit on gym floor; the air smells of basketballs. I hope I don't have to touch one. Yesterday, I couldn't pay attention in algebra, swimming in the rubbery stench still festering on my hands. That grime, working its way under my fingernails.
Mrs. Harris stands in front, wide legged, her meaty hands resting on her hips. "We're doing the mile today," she barks, "You have twenty minutes to do it. Athletes do it in four."
I knew all about milers. When Dad was still alive, he used to perch me on his lap, watching track and field on NBC Universal. "Roger Bannister broke it first," he said, as we watched the runners, all sinew and motion, arms and legs pumping towards glory. "Maybe you'll break it someday."
"I will, Daddy," I rubbed the side of his face, scratchy and warm. "I'll beat you!"
"We'll see," he replied, kissing me on the head, "Maybe you will"
Mrs. Harris blows her whistle, and herds us to the track. The November wind bites my bare legs. Heather and Lauren laugh, arms interlinked. It seems so natural, the way other kids bunch together, mingling like wild grass. Meanwhile, I play with my cuticles and pretend to tie my shoelaces.
Daddy used to do track workouts. He blurred around the circle, as I collected dandelions on the sidelines. I was in charge of Gatorade. I held the bottle for him, as he panted, hands on his knees, sweat dripping onto the black asphalt. "Thank you, Janie-Girl," he said. Sometimes, he let me have a sip.
I haven't been able to touch the stuff since the accident.
"Okay, folks, line up!" Mrs. Harris blows her whistle. I stare down the track, and decide I'm going to take the full twenty minutes.
I'm no athlete.
Meet Janie. She's the heroine of my National Novel Writing Month project. She's also the subject of this week's prompt for Write on Edge.