Story Contest 2017 #2 - Outstanding Stories (Junior) » Prospect and Apprehension
“Prospect and Apprehension” is one of the outstanding stories of the second biannual International Short Story Contest 2017 written by Daichi Hiraoka, Japan.
Prospect and Apprehension
Squeak! Squeak! My Crocs imitate mice as I head for swimming practice. As I near the entrance, I realize that my mom has the key. I ask somebody near the door to open it so that I can get to practice on time.
“Thank you,” I tell them as I walk through. As soon as I’m finished with my preparations, I hear the call for practice to start. Bracing for the impact, I hop into lane five.
My friends and I greet each other like any other day, just as the coach exclaims, “Six laps of freestyle, Daichi, ready, go!” We are finished in no time, and we start our second warm-up. I start off, and just as I hear our coach tell the next swimmer to go, our head coach waves me out of the pool from the concrete. Heaving myself out of the water, I walk over to Coach Trey. He crouches, like he’s about to do a pep talk, but he doesn’t. Instead, he gives me some positive news.
“Daichi, you’re only one second away from qualifying in both freestyle and backstroke! For the meet tomorrow, I don’t care what place you get, I only care that you qualify, got it?” he declares. I give a slight nod, excited for this weekly meet, but also sad that I had missed the qualification time last Saturday by one second. Soon, practice is finished, and I take a quick shower. I change, and start heading home. Once I’m there, I ring the doorbell, and my mom opens the door. Tired to my limits, I fall onto my bed. Too tired to wake up, I sleep until the next day.
My eyes adjust to the darkness of dawn as I realize two things: I had slept the whole afternoon and night, and that today was the meet. Placing my glasses over my eyes, I walk over to my drawer and change. I head downstairs, to discover that my parents and my little brother are already awake. We eat breakfast and enter the car inside the garage. Since the meet starts at 7:15 a.m., we have to hurry.
When we get there, we quickly set up our tent, and my friends and I start warming up in the pool. The pool was the Arctic Ocean. I felt like my body was an ice cube because it was so frigid. Thankfully, it ends in a flash, because there are so many races to fit into just five hours, the duration of the meet.
Before I know it, my backstroke event is about to start. The people that have the same event as me, which was about twenty people, jog over to the ready bench. We are split into heats, depending on our skill and speed. I am in heat one, the top heat. We go first, so after about ten minutes waiting in the ready bench, we are rushed over to the water. BEEEEP! The eight of us in heat one hop in. To me, the whistle sounds like a pigeon screeching right before a coyote bites it. Everybody takes their final breath before they start swimming, and I pray for a time below forty-seven seconds, the qualifying time for fifty yards.
“Take your marks,” the announcer commands, as we lift our bodies up, “Boooop!” We take off, and I block out all of the cheering to focus: Qualify! Qualify! As I near the other side, I flip-turn, and I kick off the wall and start the second half. My eyes glance over to my left as I discover that my friend and I are competing for first, while the others were behind by several yards. Even though I didn’t have to win to qualify, a sudden urge gave me more power in my legs, and I started to take the lead. I saw the flags above me, and I started my stroke count. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven! My right hand touches the wall before anybody else touches it, making me first. Asking for my time, I got myself ready for either relief or disappointment.
I hear the words, “Your time is forty-two point three-five!” My body fills up with delight. I had qualified, and gotten first place. Wow, today was really my day!
My second event, freestyle, was already up for the “ready bench.” I sat on my assigned seat in heat one. In ten minutes, I am already on the diving board, pushing myself off. My arms, in streamline position, slide into the water first as my body follows. I had gotten myself pretty far with my dive, and I started swimming freestyle. Nothing else was in my brain except for the words, thirty-nine seconds, Daichi, only thirty-nine seconds, you can do this! My arms and legs pulled and kicked like my life depended on it, and I was finished in what seemed like two seconds. My time was thirty-five seconds and twenty-nine milliseconds! I had qualified! As I stepped out the pool, my friends surrounded me, and congratulated me.
“Wow Daichi, you qualified!”
“Dude, you won both races!”
“Great job, bro!”
Excited for next season, as this was the last meet of this season, I smiled. I decided that I would join a swim team for the entire year, not just for the summer.