Jan 3, 2012

Why Today?

Kellie Elmore's prompt for Free Write Friday.. You are young. It’s springtime and you find yourself walking down a dirt road with a cut on your knee…

Why today? I had spent all week trying to convince myself I could set aside my tomboy ways and become…well…a girl. A girl, yes that silly, frilly fluff that wore dresses and thought boys were cute. The rest of my friends seemed to have mastered the feminine thing, but it feels so odd to me. I had decided since it was spring I would work to reinvent myself as something closer to the models in the fashion magazines my older sister read like it was her bible. 

Today I threw away a whole week’s work on a dare, and to Tommy Jackson of all people. Mama loved fresh flowers sitting on the mantel and since I was trying to do the girly thing I picked a bouquet of wildflowers for her. I knew I shouldn’t have taken the shortcut across Tommy’s place. I was in such a hurry to get home with the flowers I took a chance he would be gone. Just as I walked out onto the dirt road there he stood, all five feet of annoying bully.

Tommy had that superior sneer on his face as he asked, “Sandy, what are you doing on my place?”

I should have ignored him and kept walking, but I just wanted to wipe off his smug expression. I answered with, “You aren’t my boss. You’re dad told me I could walk here any time I wanted.”

He didn’t like my answer. He puffed his chest out and shouted, “Well, he aint here so you have to answer to me. I say you can’t cross here.”

“Tommy, you can’t stop me. All I have to do is walk to the barn where your dad is working and he will tell you himself that I have permission to cross here."

I immediately saw calling Tommy’s bluff did not set well with him. He gritted his teeth while clenching and unclenching his fists. Then, as if a light bulb went off in that dull head of his, he grinned at me saying, “If you can beat me in a foot race, I will let you pass without any more trouble.”

A dare, he knew what ammunition he was firing at me. I was known for not backing down from a dare. My pride was as big as the sun. I knew if I turned him down it would be all over school Monday that I was a chicken.

I looked him in the eye shouting, “You better be ready to run because I plan on beating you to that second curve up the road.” He nodded his head in agreement and I lay down my flowers to prepare to race.

He growled the countdown from five and we started running. Just then I realized I didn’t have on my tennis shoes. Darn the girl thing! I had on pink sandals that tied around my ankle. The ribbon on my left sandal had come untied causing it to flop on my foot. With a kick I sent the shoe into the grass and kept running.

Tommy had pulled slightly ahead of me at the first curve. Hobbled as I was with one shoe on and one shoe off I continued to chase after him. All I could think about was walking into school Monday to hear him bragging he had beat me in a race. That made me try harder and I was able to pass him. Giving everything I had I reached the second curve first. Just as I turned to give my victory salute I tripped over the ribbon tie on my right sandal. With arms flailing I went down on my right knee into the gravel. Tommy, unable to stop himself,went sailing over my head and landed face down in the dirt. Without a word to each other we got up from the gravel. Tommy looked at me acknowledging his defeat while I reached down and ripped the pink sandal from my foot.

For a brief moment we stood looking at one another. Although I had won the race I didn’t feel like bragging. With a quiet goodbye Tommy turned and walked toward his house. Limping on a bloody knee I turned also to make my way home.

Today I had started out being a girl to return home once again as a tomboy. Trying to be someone I wasn’t was just too hard. I think I will just go back to being me.

©Susie Clevenger 2012


  1. Susie! I commented this already! I came back to see if you replied and it's gone! :( I don't know what happened!

    I know I told you that I love the message of just being yourself and how important that is and of course how much I loved the entire piece. With the mischief of boys and the dares and the nostalgic feel. It is all so wonderful! You are quite the storyteller!

    I'm sorry again that the comment is not here, I hope at least you got to read it?? I am messaging you this on FB just to make sure this time lol :)

  2. Hey Kellie...I was on my phone today and I read your response, but somehow when I went to respond I lost it. Thank you for coming back to respond again. Thanks for you nice comments on the story. It is a little rough around the edges, but I am learning. I am going to try my hand this year at more story telling. So far 2012 has been really good to me. Hope it has been to you also!!

  3. you certainly held my attention. a fun, spirited race and read.

  4. Glad you're back to being you ;)