K is for Kit

How would you feel if your mother had no one else to talk to but you?
How would you feel if a bad-tempered coach physically forced you into a netball team you never dreamed of joining?
How would you feel if a giant gum tree fell through your roof?
How would you feel if your name went suddenly from Humphrey to Dwhite when your mum’s new boyfriend elected himself step-dad?
How would you feel if your best friend wanted something, couldn’t have it and began to blame you?
How would you feel if you suddenly realised you wanted exactly what your best friend almost kept, but didn’t have anymore?
And how would you feel if Brooke Bradley just came along and changed your perspective on everything?
That pretty much covers it.
Welcome to my life.


1. Chapter 1



I was unjustly composed in an awful world where if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. In my case, there was only really one option.
The first girl that came to mind when Jennifer said ‘netball’, was Clara. She’s as bad as a blister growing like a peach, fleshy clamp on your shoulder, ready to explode cheesy puss down your sleeve.
The ornamental, flat-chest Barbie doll with her combed warm, ruddy hair blushing in the November light of a Thursday afternoon, the sun like a spotlight on her feathery split ends. Her hair she often weaved into a plait or tied into a bun, like a hulky botch on her head. No matter how perfect she acted, she had a bad habit of picking her nose when she read a book, and what made things worse is she has this musty soup smell that clings to anything on her it can.
She wears this netball uniform almost all the time. They’ve had it since the 1980’s when the school actually became a school. It’s a three-buttoned up collared polo shirt and a navy pleated skirt.
 Then there was her friend, Alice, with her hair crispy, corkscrewed oak ringlets; colour like a splash of good quality paint, she had hardly a neck, a sharp pair of broad-shoulders and both her arms and legs swarmed with freckles like bees to pollen. The girl who’s crabby attitude strikes you like the pain of an old pimple. Her eyes rolling clockwise whenever she didn’t get her way.
Jennifer and I had been strolling across the sudsy shore of the beach when she brought it up. The air was wrapped in a city smell but it was hard to determine why, since this was the country. The trees along the oval up shore had leaves as thick as straw, growing sickly in the ill-lighted evening. They were a darker sort of jade, the tree branches swollen with crumbly bark, fallen leaves lying warped and withered by the trunk. You used to see cyclists worming down the park but since the weather had gotten hotter, there hadn’t been many out lately.  
Off in the distance, the ocean looked grassy green. The sky was painted pink and crimson tonight. In the mornings I sometimes woke to see a sleek yellow river in the dawning light, kind of like a pineapple stain. I was always drawn to how different the sky looked at different times of the day. Often you find clouds like tawny puddles during dusk in the midst of orange; or pear-shaped silverly clouds around noon. That’s what it was like on Sunday.
Earlier the day had been spicy humid. It was like a jalapeno had been cracked open on my tongue. Every touchable surface was ablaze.
I ran all five fingers of my right hand through the pulpy centre of my hair.
I muted all noise as I regarded a trail of shells hidden amongst seaweed crimped like snakes. Ah, what a wonderful day, I thought to myself. Everything was so magnificently bonny in its own unique way. I feared often I took too much of it for granted.
I guess I’m one of those people who notice a lot. Mum says I’m so good at it I should write a book of observations. I had told her, “Mum? Who is going to read a book about plain observations?”
She had simply shrugged. I even looked at people, observing how attractive they looked. Take Jennifer for instance. She’s one of those girls with sweeping, raspberry lips that get away with red lipstick. She is someone I’d stay is mildly beautiful. Her hair coiled like barbed-wire, ash blonde and downy from shampoo. The skin on her face was olive but mellow from foundation.
I looked at her eyes, as bright as floodlights.
I suddenly began to think of a dream home as we padded the cut scallops in the sand, footprints from other wanderers. The sand was bevelled with unevenness, the blare of the sun crowning the lapping ocean.
 I’d always loved the farms. Farms with jagged fences that rippled limply like tides around a farm house with a sheltered porch, where the paint’s been slowly peeling away in piles of chips. For my love of bushwalks, I could swagger down a dirt path barefooted with the dewy soil mushy between my toes. I wished and hoped someday that could be me; on a russet hill surrounded by only the chirpy cricket sounds or the deep sirens of the wind.
I’d have a cat too, a lazy one. I’d have the living room with walls to outsize the furniture and mahogany side-tables. The hallway to be as far and wide as a cricket pitch lined with doors to lead into guest rooms or art studios. The windows would be few but large so the sun could heckle through. I’d have a twisting staircase, spiralling up toward a getaway room where I could relax in front of a small television set in the heat of fleecy night gown.

I stared straight into the horizon of raisin hills. They looked like that off in the distance in the haze of bush-like clouds.
“What about it?”
I came speedily crashing down to earth. My hair roots were stabbing me which was a feeling I never thought existed.
“I don’t know Jennifer...” I replied weakly. I hoped my tone didn’t seem too caught off guard.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if you did it with me!”
She had been trying to drag me into joining the school’s netball team. I was totally against it. I preferred real sports.
“The carnival’s coming up and I really want to do it!”
“No. I’m not going to put on netball whatever-you-call-it and dance around a court like a twit! And I definitely do not want to end up like Clara.”
“End up like Clara?” Jennifer echoed. “You will not.”
“Who knows?”
Jennifer huffed. The air was thick with burning rubber, although we were on the beach.
“You might begin to like netball. Can’t you come to practice with me?”
“I don’t want to.”
“I’m your friend! I would do the same for you.”
I thought about this.
“Okay then. If I was going fishing for two days straight in a fishless ocean would you do it because your my friend?”
“But that’s different!”
I laughed painfully.
“No it’s not.”
“Your being ridiculous. Come to one practice. Just one!”
“Why is this even so important to you? You don’t even play netball.”
“Yes – well I played it in grade three.”
“It’s been ages since then. How do you even know you like the sport anymore? I would hardly call it a sport anyway. More like a production for girls to show off their thighs.”
“Kit! Don’t be such a fool!”
“I’m not!” I whined. “Why can’t you do it alone?”
Jennifer walked on rustically.
“I’ll come and watch you.” I finally gave in.
“It’s not the same. But, if you watch me you could change your mind?”
“I honestly doubt it Jen!”
“Worth a shot. Then, alright!”
Jennifer was the only girl in her school summer dress. All the other girls wore their netball skirts.
The coach was dauntless Mrs. Hammers. She was a pretty sublime, hard-nosed human. Her legs were colossal for such a small woman, (compared to taller ladies of her height). They were imposing below the knee and her veins crept up and down her leg branched like long fingers and skinny forked tongues. Her face was scarlet red and pimply like a teenager. Her smile was rather clumsy and gaunt like a doll with its features painted wrongly.
“Come on girls, I want to see those legs moving. Quick feet!”
I’d never really considered attempting another sport besides soccer.
Mrs. Hammers limped about the court, watching the girls like some uncanny witch. Then, to my dismay, she caught sight of me sitting idle on the steps.
“Hello?” She rasped sourly. “Are you trying out too?”
I was tempted to come back with, what do you think? but fought against the idea.
“No thanks.”
“Why’s that?”
I looked down at my ebony leather shoes wondering what to say. I thought of saying it was because I didn’t like the sport but I would get a mouthful if that came out. I looked up at Mrs. Hammers, sort of irritated by her being there, staring down at me like a shrew. “I don’t know.”
“That’s just not good enough.”
“I really don’t have the time. I have other commitments...”
“No time for physical activity?”
Was I seriously going to get into an argument with Mrs. Hammers?
“I have soccer and swimming,” I lied, “Really.”
“Let me ask you something, uh – what’s your name?”
“Fine then, Kitarna. Do you enjoy sports?”
“Sure. They can be...”
“But not netball?”
“What? I didn’t say that.”
“Get on your feet and follow me.” I found myself submissively tagging behind Mrs. Hammers as we walked over to some old, smelly sports bag while the girls on the court did chest passes.
When I say the bag was smelly, I mean it was as bad as a tart onion left in the sun, deep-fried and marinated in soya source, and then left to rot in oil and cheese and chives.
A pair of threadbare sneakers was suddenly dumped into my hands. The odour on them was like a thick, strong smell of chicken grease and gravy.
“Put these on.” I was instructed. I glanced over at Jennifer, noticing she was looking over at me.
“What?” I finally realised how ridiculous this all was. “No!”
“Excuse me?” Mrs. Hammers slowly rotated to face me, to make my cowardly fear of her strictly intense.
“I don’t want to do netball.”
“One practice is all I’m asking.”
“I’m sorry, did I not make it clear. Oh yes, I said I was asking you to do it. Now I’m telling you to. Put ‘em on now and get your backside on the court.”
I stood for at least three seconds, feeling sort of ill-at-ease, being forced into such a despicable thing.
I didn’t want to be in a silly old team and I definitely did not want to put those frowzy sneakers on my feet. I was just there for watching Jennifer.
“Um – Mrs. Hammers?”
But she ignored me. I watched the girls twiddle on their tippy-toes while I stood ugly by the side-line.
“Put ‘em on.” Mrs. Hammers called over her shoulder. I knew this was some trick. But I put them on anyway. They were a little big. I was practically swimming in them. But I walked awkwardly to Mrs. Hammers and the team.
She turned to me, looking slightly sully with disappointment as if she rebuked in the first place.
“You didn’t order an Olympic gold-medallist.” I chided.  
“Shut up smart ass and clean up the attitude.” She tongued in reply. “I need a spic and span player if your gonna be in my team.”
“I didn’t even ask for you to boss me around on some stupid netball team.” I scourged angrily. “You’d be better off winning carnivals without me.”
“Look Kitarna. You’re just callow alright, so watch what my girls do. Don’t you stand here and act like some raw amateur vegetable okay? You’ll do.”
“Oh gracious!” I ragged.

The team was built up of gold-haired, dapple-faced losers with miniskirts and pony-tails. All except Jennifer, of course. But I worried she’d become one.
In fact, the only two girls with brownish hair were Clara and Alice. They surveyed me up and down and simply leered me all recess of training which made it extremely uncomfortable. Mrs. Hammers also wouldn’t stop gawking as soon as I was on the court. I felt her gaze breathe down my neck even when I wasn’t looking at her. She pierced me with ridicule like I was a clown slipping and sliding in oversized sneakers. Half of which was actually true. I really hated her for this and somehow I would make her pay for it.
It’s official right now. Mrs. Hammers is the worst coach on the planet.







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