• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 11
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My first standing dive at the lake.

I feel like Aesop's dog staring down into its own covetous reflection. What I wouldn't give to bust those unsmiling, quivering chops into a great featureless ripple. Jellied knees and stubborn heels say otherwise.

Cue baffling fraternal pep talk.

"You wouldn't make much of a horse you know."

The eyes roll in both subject and reflection.

"Baby horse doesn't find it's feet in its first hour and it's done, mate. Toast."

'Foal', surely? Cretin...

"You don't get to run the 'National if you don't find your feet."

Obscurity rating: ten. Motivational value: nil. I hear the words "Red Rum" and tune into a different frequency.

I'm above the surface terrified of the image of myself below it. Not too old for the fear to be abnormal but old enough to have meticulously constructed a great galling wall of weed snares, gut cramps and aquatic bacilli. Oh, for one of those Blitz-era great-uncles to just cut through the head chatter and chuck this shrinking bone sack in with a brick in its trunks.



Full stomach too. I'll be the diving puke death poster boy on five continents: "IDIOT KID DIES IN UNDERWATER REGURGITATED BREAKFAST CHOKING TRAGEDY". Damn you, bloody implausible terror-magnifying brain headlines!

Every fibre of my being hates the cretin for having even the merest semblance of a point. In ten minutes I'll be toast. Foal failure.

Coughing up a last capitulating whinny at the feet of a hacked off metaphorical mare wondering why the hell she metaphorically bothered. A horse is as thick as the glue it ends up as but it negotiates the greatest hurdle in its stupid horsey life in its first hour. I've spent nine far cleverer years fashioning strategies to avoid being first in line for anything. I have reason, self-preserving suspicion and a surprisingly advanced appreciation of metaphor over any damned horse.

"Horsey, horsey, don't you stop..."

The heights we talk ourselves down from. The vomit drownings we painstakingly circumvent. All to crane curious necks with the hesitant watchers behind the ropes.

"Just let your feet go clippety-clop..."

Watch lines of leapers find their fifty-minute feet. Watch opportunity knock next door and flick you the finger. Just watch and watch and never stop watching to go and do.

"Your tail goes swish and the wheels go round..."

I suspect many of the metaphors I have a surprising appreciation of have been urging me not to settle for neck craning. I guess some things are worth risking a part-digested breakfast inhalation.



"Giddy-up we're homeward bound."

Sarcastic applause. The cretin scores an ugly, painful entry with a string of nought-point-somethings. My belly stings and glows like sunburn.

I couldn't care less. I could run the 'National.