Friday, September 16, 2016

Writing Prompt: Hustle

"Hustle, if you can.”

I'm in Junior High PE class. Each day, my teacher tasks me with turning in the attendance sheet after class. Normally, I don't mind. Having a job to do gives me a purpose, and that helps me feel less awkward, a little less junior high. Today, I mind. It's an unusual day for the pacific Northwest: the sun is shining; it's dry, and only the slightest of breezes lifts the ends of my long, brown ponytail. We're outside, "celebrating" the lack of rain with some sport involving a stick and a ball.

I'm on 1st base, so that means if our guy with stick hits the flying ball that doesn't get caught, I have to run to the next little spot being guarded by some other guy. I don't really know about sports-ball, hence the teacher's instruction to hustle. If I can. It takes all my concentration to do this right. So there I am, one foot on the spot they told me to stand on, fists clenched, staring at our guy with the stick. If he hits the flying ball, I'm going to hustle.

That's when my teacher approaches me with the attendance sheet to turn in. I clench it in my fist, terrified that I'll drop it or lose it, or start reviewing it for accuracy and miss my queue to do running. Now I have two jobs: turn in the sheet and hustle. If I lose the sheet I will have failed in an administrative duty that, even at 13, would have mortified me with myself. If I fail to hustle I will definitively prove to my teacher, my classmates, and God above that I am clumsy and stupid and book-wormy.

So I clench the sheet into a wad in my fist and when I hear the stick and flying ball meet with a low “pop", I am off like a shot. I might not be sporty, but it turns out that I can run. Sweating and red-faced, kicking up dirt and grass, I pass all the spots and end up back at the beginning spot. HOME RUN. We won the Super Bowl! We did winning and I feel like I accomplished all the things.

My teacher looks at the wadded up attendance sheet, mostly illegible now and useless for anything other than to mop at the sweat dripping down my face and says, “Maybe a little less hustle next time."

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