Benders, p.1
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       Benders, p.1
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           O G Bridgman
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  By O G Bridgman

  Copyright 2015 O G Bridgman

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorised retailer. Thank you for your support.

  Chapter 1 The Game Changer

  The first time it happened was the soccer grand final just a few weeks ago. It had been a very tight game all the way through. Even after extra time the score was still tied at 1-1. This meant we were going to a penalty shoot out. The other goalie, Jack Smith was the best in the comp. He had made the rep team for the last three years, but I was in the middle of the best game of my life. I was in the zone.

  It got to 3-3 in the shoot out, just one shot left for each goalie, we had both saved one so far. Our best shooter was next. He nailed it, Jack guessed the wrong way and it sailed into the back of the net. I was excited but tense. It was all on me now, I had the chance to win it or lose it for my team.

  I knew who was coming too. Craig Anderson, he was also in the rep team, and was the star striker and he knew it. There was nothing that I wanted more than to stop one of his goals. He had already got one past me today. I was determined to stop him getting another one through.

  I stared up at him, his face was just like mine, nervous but determined. He ran in and kicked. I knew straight away that he had struck the ball perfectly. It was going to the top right swinging into the corner. I had guessed correctly and my body was going the right way but I knew I could never get that far across in time.

  Then suddenly, well actually it wasn’t suddenly at all, it was slowly, very slowly, something happened. Something very strange. The ball slowed down in the air, in fact it was as though it had stopped, almost. It reminded me of when you are watching the cricket highlights and they hit the slow motion and you see the ball going slowly towards the fielder about to take or drop the catch. It was the same for me except for one big difference.

  I wasn’t slower. In this moment I could still move. I didn’t know how I knew this, I just did. I immediately realised what this meant. I had time. The time I needed to take the extra step before I made my dive to stop the ball. Maybe now I could get there in time.

  I crossed my left foot over my right, and jumped with all my strength. The ball definitely hadn’t stopped it had just slowed down, it was just such a dramatic change it seemed as though it had stopped at first. I was now flying through the air towards the point where I knew the ball was heading. I was going to make it, I couldn’t believe it but I was going to make it. I kept my eyes focused on the ball, making sure I didn’t miss at this last crucial stage. I made a fist and whack! I knocked it over the cross bar.

  Once I saw the ball go over I relaxed and suddenly the slow motion was off. It made me dizzy for a moment, like I had been spun around five times with my eyes closed. I looked around expecting my teammates and my mum to be staring at me like I was some kind of freak. But they weren’t. Instead I was mobbed by my teammates. It took me a moment to realise why. WE HAD WON! I forgot about what had happened in an instant. The main thing was we were premiers and I had been the better goalie in the shootout and had stopped the kick of Craig Anderson!

  That day was the best day of my life, it was also the day that my life started to change, and would never be the same again.

  Chapter 2 The Test

  I snapped myself out of my daydream and looked again at the question I was stuck on. We were doing a practice test again. It was the reading test, for as long as I could remember I had always found reading hard. It just never made sense to me. I really shouldn’t have been daydreaming about the grand final but it was so wonderful and it had been on my mind a lot lately.

  There were many things that were strange about that day and I had so many questions but time thinking about them hadn’t helped at all. The most incredible part was that no one had noticed what had happened. I thought after the celebrations someone would have said something like-

  ‘Wasn’t it weird how the ball seemed to slow down in the air before you stopped it’

  But nobody did. I asked mum on the way home in the car. She laughed and said that it was my imagination and that I just must have been so focused on the ball that I thought it had slowed down. She did say that it was definitely my best ever save, and my best game for that matter.

  My coach had said that he had never seen me move that fast before. A few of my friends were saying that I should try out for reps next year after going so well in a shoot out. Especially as I beat Jack Smith and because I stopped one of Craig Andersons’s shots. Apparently it was the first time anybody had ever stopped one of his penalty shots. I was looking forward to rep trials for sure, mum had said maybe, it was hard for us to do extra things like that at times.

  The fact that nobody else thought that the ball had slowed down actually worried me a bit. Did this mean I was going crazy? To me it had definitely slowed down. But why had I seen it slow down and nobody else?

  The other thing that didn’t make sense was how they thought I had been fast! I had felt slow if anything. It took me a while to realise that that the ball was slower, and I still felt slow even though I got to the ball. Maybe it was just that the ball slowed down more? Even this was a total guess. Was I some kind of freak? It was a bit scary but at least no one else knew what I thought. I did talk to mum but she had just laughed it off.

  The great thing about it was that even though nobody knew how or why it had happened, it had helped me to help the team win. I don’t know why the ball had slowed down but if it didn’t we would never have won. There was no getting around this. So it must only be a good thing. Deep down though I wasn’t even sure about exactly what had happened. It was just too weird.

  There was a nagging question in my heart too. What if it happened again? If it was just some random event then what would it matter. Maybe there was a gust of wind in the exact opposite direction. Or maybe I was just so in the moment that I had imagined it. Maybe mum was right. I was hoping this was the case and it would just be a funny thing that happened to me at the end of year 4.

  But there was a small part of me that hoped that it did happen again. It was an exhilarating feeling. Diving through the air, stopping the ball and knowing that I had just enough time to get there. I never felt so in control during a game. And I did love games, all games. My favourite part of every week was Friday sport and then sport on the weekend.

  This afternoon was actually our last cricket training before our first game of the season. My choice of favourite sport had swapped again. In summer it was cricket and winter it was soccer, and it was coming into summer again.

  I looked up at the clock and sighed. I had 5 minutes left to try and work out 10 more multiple choice questions. I wasn’t going to finish, again. Never mind there would always be another practice test, and another, and another.

  Chapter 3 Training

  As soon as I got home from school I quickly got my gear ready for cricket training. I wasn’t usually very organised except when it came to getting ready for sport. Mum had some afternoon tea ready, I shoved that down, filled up my drink bottle and we were in the car and off to training.

  Mum and I often had a good chat in the car on the way to cricket or soccer or wherever. We talked a bit about school but she could tell that I wasn’t that interested. As soon as we got to training I jumped out of the car. I could see immediately that we were on the field and not in the nets. We had spent most of our time in the nets and we needed to practise our running between the wickets and fielding before the game on Saturday.

  I grabbed my kit, chucked it on the ground and immediately st
arted putting the pads on. Not for batting but for wicket keeping. I loved keeping. To me it was a bit like being a goalie. I loved seeing the whole game. I loved knowing what was going on. In soccer I got to look up at the whole field. In cricket I was in the best spot to see what the bowler was doing, was it swinging, spinning, cutting? Was he bowling fast? Did the batsmen have a weakness?

  What I loved most though was the same as soccer. It was up to me to stop it. It was different again to soccer though. In soccer I was the last line of defence. In cricket it was that, it was my job to stop and save as many runs as I could but I also had to take catches. Or my favourite… get a stumping. And there was nothing better than stumping someone who had gone out of their crease and missed it. After that it was a race, between me catching the ball and hitting the stumps with it and the batsmen trying to get back in their crease.

  We had a couple of spin bowlers in our team, one was in the rep team so he was pretty good and always gave me a few chances to get a stumping. I was sometimes a bit cheeky and came up to the medium pace bowlers too. It was hard and there was always the danger of getting wacked somewhere, the ball had a funny way of missing the protection we would wear no matter if we were batting or wicket keeping. But you could never worry about that, if it happened it happened. My job was just to watch that ball until it was safely in my gloves.

  I was feeling really good during practice. The ball kept going into the middle of my gloves and I was seeing it really well. Cricket is funny like that. Sometimes you can feel that you are going to bat well or keep well. My coach called it form. After one of our players got some runs they would start saying ‘he’s in good form’. Well I was starting to feel that way now. My coach had noticed it too. He had been fielding and helping the batsman at first slip, just next to me. He suggested I start keeping up to the stumps, which was fine with me. In fact I loved being up at the stumps. So I really wanted to stop every ball to show to the coach that I could do it well, so hopefully he would ask me to stand up at the stumps in the game.

  The next bowler was the biggest in our team and could bowl fast but he wasn’t the most accurate. He was a nice guy but sometimes he would get a bit grumpy, especially when he was bowling. When he saw me come up to the stumps he got grumpy. I didn’t care, I was keeping well and I felt like a challenge. There was no way I was letting a ball through.

  The first ball he bowled was short, like he was trying to tell me to get back. But one of our best batters was having their turn. He just got onto the back foot and pulled it for four. The coach told him to pitch it up. He did but because he was trying so hard to bowl fast he lost control of it. It was flying down the legside. It was very wide, it would be amazing if I got there in time. A Ball down the legside was always harder to stop because you lost sight of the ball, as the batsmen would be in the way. I just had to move my body in that direction and hopefully I would pick it up again, move my gloves to it and catch it or at least stop it.

  I moved down the legside and then I felt it. This time I knew it was happening before I even saw the ball going slowly. A little shiver went through me but it was good feeling. It was all in slow motion again. The ball definitely didn’t stop it just slowed down to give me time. The time I needed to reach it before it was passed me. I took the quick extra little step grabbed the ball and then I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the batsmen was out of his crease, without thinking I put the ball into my right hand and knocked off the bails.

  My coach was ecstatic. He said it was a brilliant bit of keeping. The batsmen couldn’t believe it either. He had just had a quick flick at the ball lost his balance and was only out of the crease for a second (although to me it seemed like 10 seconds). I wasn’t in a daze afterwards this time, its like I was getting used to it, whatever it was.

  Before training finished I asked the coach if it had been a slower ball that I had stopped. Deep down I knew it wasn’t but part of me was hoping it was. He just said-

  “Slower ball no! It was his quickest ball today, the only thing quicker were your hands when you caught it and knocked the bails off”.

  I knew for sure now. I didn’t know how or why but time was slowing down for me.

  Chapter 4 Discovered

  I had trouble sleeping that night. I was trying to work out what was happening to me. I knew it was me now because today at training it was like I was in control. I was feeling confident, just like in the soccer game. I had been playing well, just like in the soccer game and I had really wanted to stop that ball, just like in the soccer game.

  There was one other strange thing that happened both today and after the soccer game. I was starving. In the car on the way home I had felt really hungry. I started to wonder if maybe this ability took a lot of energy to work.

  What’s more I just knew it. I couldn’t explain how I knew, but I did. It felt right and it felt comfortable, at least while I was doing it. Now that I was home and had time to think about what was happening I was a little scared. Scared that if people knew, they would think I was a freak. At least nobody knew. To everyone else I was just moving fast, not slowing time down. That’s certainly how my coach saw it. But part of me wanted to share what was going on. I wanted to shout out loud and tell my friends at school. But I knew that if I did they would all think that I was nuts.

  Eventually I got to sleep and into my favourite day of the week. It was getting towards the end of the year so we had another practice test. Today it was a writing test and then after recess it would at least be sport. My writing was better than my reading, coming up with ideas and arguments was never a problem for me it was just boring. Not at first but after the 20th exposition it got pretty boring. And my spelling was rubbish. So writing was not much fun to me.

  I made a start on my exposition. Then, as was typical for me I got distracted. My mind started to wander. I was thinking about if I could actually control this ability to make time slow. If I could, I’d become a really good wicket keeper and goalie. Maybe I could make it into the rep teams in a year or two.

  I looked up at the clock, before I knew it I had wasted 20 minutes. I suddenly remembered Mrs Williams had said that she expected a better effort than our last exposition or we would be working on it at lunchtime. I quickly had a think, what was my last one like. Ohh that’s right it had been good, I actually tried really hard and had done 5 paragraphs of good arguments.

  Ten minutes would never be enough time to get another four paragraphs done! I made a furious start just in case. If I could get enough done Mrs Williams might say it was a decent effort. Maybe but unlikely, she was a good teacher she expected a lot from us and she knew when we were being slack.

  I finished my third paragraph and looked up. There was still 8 minutes left?! What was going on. Usually a paragraph took me at least 5 minutes and I had just done two paragraphs in two minutes. I stopped, and stared again at the clock, the second hand was moving slowly. Oh no! Had I done it again? I then looked at Mrs Williams, she was looking at me strangely, like there was something that wasn’t quite right.

  I had done it again! But I hadn’t noticed. This worried me a bit but not as much as the expression on Mrs Williams face. She had noticed! Her look was one of puzzlement and concern. I smiled back and looked back at my work trying to show her that I was just trying to do my best. But deep down I was worried. Nobody had known that I was weird until now. What if she told other teachers, or the principal, or my mum. What would happen to me?

  I tried to ignore these thought’s and get back to my work. I thought if I could just finish then Mrs Williams won’t have to look at my work and keep me in and hopefully I can escape to the playground and she would just forget. I got the last paragraph done, but I was careful to make sure that I didn’t slow time down again. I kept looking up at the clock and making sure that the second hand was going around at the right speed.

  Time was up, I’d done four paragraphs, hopefully this would be alright. As we took out our work to Mrs Williams she asked
me to wait behind when the bell went. Oh no, she had noticed! What was I going to say?

  “It was wonderful to see you working so hard today, I was worried I was going to have to keep you in but that last ten minutes you were amazingly quick” Mrs Williams said.

  There was a look in her eye. She had always been a kind and understanding teacher, but suddenly I saw something else. She knew that something weird had happened, but she didn’t want to draw attention to me. She was just concerned. I looked back and just said.

  “Thanks Mrs Williams”

  “Are you feeling ok, you look a bit pale?”.

  “Actually Mrs William I’m really hungry, I was wondering if I could grab my recess”.

  I really was hungry and tired. In fact I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so tired.

  “Off you go, keep up the good work, maybe you should work a bit more consistently and not be in such a rush at the end”.

  “Thanks Mrs Williams I think you are right, I’ll do that next time”. And I meant it!

  At recess I ate all the food that I had, I was so hungry. Then I just rested, no soccer on the oval, no handball either. My friends thought I was crazy but I just knew I didn’t have the energy. Keeping my concentration and slowing down time for so long had been exhausting. I didn’t notice it at the time but when I stopped I was so tired and hungry.

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