Ventus, p.1Jonathan Dakin
Ventus: Part One of the
Copyright 2012 by Jonathan Dakin
I suppose it all began a few weeks after my fifteenth birthday. Actually, I know that it all began a few weeks after my fifteenth birthday. Being one of the youngest in my year at school, I always felt behind in everything. But the thing I hated the most was being short. All the other boys in my year were much taller than me. I suppose it was probably when people started to turn thirteen that they hit puberty properly, and their bodies sprang into action, transforming them from little rodents into huge giants. But that never happened to me. I remained a mouse. And I hated it. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to be so small and childlike, when everyone else looks like an adult? My best friend, Marvin, grew to be about six foot tall when he was twelve years old, towering over me for what seemed like the longest time. Everyone used to think that I was his kid brother, and people would always laugh at me, and condescendingly say: “It’ll happen one day, you’re just a little behind the rest. You’re the runt of the litter”. And it didn’t help that, in some ways, it was actually true.
You see, I’m the youngest in my family. So technically, I am the ‘baby’, something which my older sisters, Aura and Sefarina, never failed to remind me. Even they were taller than me, and they aren’t that tall. I never really had a good relationship with them. When we were little we used to play board games together during our Sunday afternoon compulsory ‘family time’, but that was before they both figuratively and literally outgrew me. When they became teenagers, I rarely saw them. They had new friends, new lives, new things to do and new people to see, and I was not a part of that. Also, with them both being girls and me being the only boy, there was always a clear divide, and I was usually always ganged up on and side-lined. But I never really had a problem with it. Luckily for me, I always loved to play sports, because I love being outdoors. The breeze on your face as you run towards the goal, dribbling the ball between your legs, feeling both the ball and the grass beneath your feet, the sun beating down on you… It’s my idea of heaven. Even in the strong winds or icy rain I feel somehow connected to the bracing elements. Cricket, basketball, rugby, football, athletics: as long as it is a sports activity that can be played outside, I’ll enjoy it. And I’ll probably be good at it too. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but I’m pretty good at anything outdoorsy that I turn my hand to. I always have been. It’s the same for my sisters too. Although Aura has always had a strange affinity with the water, and Sefarina, who seems to ignore most sports entirely, likes to cultivate her plants and flowers. All three of us longed to be in the great outdoors. We never enjoyed being cooped up inside, locked indoors at ‘home’. Home to me could be in a tent, in a cave, or even simply lying under the stars.
Being short, at secondary school, is definitely a challenge. But luckily for me, being good at sports seemed to counteract against it. Teenage boys tend not to pick on the person who is the best at sports, regardless of what he looks like. They wanted me on their team because they want to win. The only sport I had trouble with were the ones which depended more on a person’s size, like basketball or rugby. But since I’m such a fast runner, and very coordinated, I still managed to succeed. Don’t ask me why. It’s like second nature to me. Marvin always said that he envied my sports skills, and I always told him that I envied his height. We would usually laugh about it, but, as he pointed out, one day I would grow taller. Then I would be both tall and skilled, but he would just be tall. And in some ways, he was right.
It was a few months after my fifteenth birthday. I was so busy concentrating on my GCSE’s that I failed to notice that I had finally hit puberty, and was beginning to inch taller. My sisters and my father said that I was starting to look different, and within a few weeks, my clothes stopped fitting properly. After that I finally shot up, to a normal male height. I can’t explain how happy I was. And it wasn’t just the height, it was everything: the stubble, the deep voice, the hair: I finally stopped looking like a little kid. And Marvin was right: I now had both skills and height, which helped me to progress in sports more than ever before. Not that it had ever really mattered to me; I was genuinely one of those people who just played the game to participate. In all honesty, I just liked playing. Winning was never really anything I had ever cared about. Sure, it was always nice to win, and I usually always did, but on the rare occasions when I did lose, it never really bothered me. I wasn’t one of those people who started screaming and shouting, who would run off in a huff or mouth off about why it definitely wasn’t their fault for the loss. And I wasn’t a bad winner either, I just smiled, congratulated my team-mates, and that was all. Until, of course, a few months after my fifteenth birthday, when everything changed.
The first incident was just before the summer holidays, when we were playing a five-a-side friendly match during our lunch break. We were two-nil up, with five minutes to go, when Benny did a bad cross that gave the opposition the ball, and of course, they scored. Before my growth spurt, I would have been fine with this, especially since we were still one goal ahead. Unexpected moments are the reason why football is so exciting. But I went crazy. It seemed like I had lost control of myself. Another person, an angry, frustrated, arrogant idiot, had taken over. I started screaming and swearing and shouting at Benny and blaming him for being stupid, and everyone froze. They had never seen me like this. I didn’t know what was going on, but one thing I did know: I was furious. And from then on, for the rest of the match, I seemed to be in a cloudy haze of rage and retribution. My outburst had caused the players on my team to become nervous and tense, worried that I would criticise and chastise them, which I did. Every time someone made an error, I made sure they knew how I felt about it. Pretty soon, the mood changed from a light hearted kick-around, to a serious competition. We had to win. The other team had to win. Everything depended on it. And within minutes the other side scored, and I went ballistic, making sure that my team-mates knew how terrible they were, and how poorly they were playing. I made sure that they knew that I was able to play better by myself, and that I was so good I didn’t even need a team. They were just there to fill the spaces. And with a few seconds to go, I was in possession, running towards the goal, and scored. The school bell that indicated we were to begin lessons again tolled and I was beaming, running across the pitch screaming and congratulating myself. I was the best! I was amazing! And I did it all myself, in spite of my team! My friends were in total shock. They had never seen me like this. Never. I wasn’t one of those pretentious arses who put down their less capable team-mates. I had a reputation for being calm, quiet, composed: a true ‘sportsman’.
Marvin didn’t talk to me after that. He said I had changed. But I didn’t care. I was the best. We both knew it, and he was just jealous. No one else in my year was better than me at any sport, and now that I was tall, I succeeded at everything I tried. Everyone respected me, and in some ways, feared me. I would make sure that people knew they had screwed up, I chanted at the opposing team, I argued with the referee if they ruled against my side. It wasn’t until the summer holidays, when Dad asked me about Marvin, that I realised I hadn’t spoken to him for almost a month. I tried calling him. I texted him. I even emailed him, and didn’t get a response. It was strange, but then it wasn’t, not really. He had always been tall, and now that I was both athletic and tall, he couldn’t handle it. He didn’t want to see me succeed. But that wasn’t the truth at all.
Sefarina and Aura had also noticed how much I had changed. Not just physically, since I was now finally towering over them, but also emotionally. Sefarina is the more down to earth, quiet and calm sister, and since she is onl
Marvin always used to joke about our colour changing eyes, saying that they were like that because we could control the weather. I always thought that he was just being stupid. I was wrong.
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