Paige successfully made it through to the end of term without committing suicide or failing her life; her grades were fine with A*’s being predicted for the end of Year Eleven in nearly all her subjects save Maths which was an A. Rose kept on crushing over Oliver to anyone who would listen, or so it seemed, and they met up every weekend to have coffee or watch a film. It was very romantic and Sophie thought they were adorable together. The old primary school song of ‘Oliver and Ro-ose, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G’ rang through Rose’s ears whenever Sophie assumed that Rose was thinking about or going to meet Oliver.
The summer holidays raced upon the family at rapid speed. The weather was wonderful, bright sunshine all day, every day, with high temperatures and no unsettled rain spells adding perfection. Lori and Jack had organized a week’s holiday in Devon where they would be able to spend their first family holiday. For the whole week they would be staying in a small cottage with four bedrooms, an average sized garden to share with the two neighboring cottages and the usual kitchen, lounge and bathrooms. Paige wanted to visit some of the National Trust and English Heritage sites in the area, Rose wanted to the beach, Ryan wanted to walk the coast path and Sophie wanted to go to the nearest town to do some shopping. Lori organized a schedule so that everyone could do what they wanted and some other things too.
In the end they visited the local donkey sanctuary on the afternoon of their arrival where Paige found that stroking a donkey was one of the most relaxing exercise in the world and Sophie begged Jack to allow her to adopt a donkey. The answer was a firm ‘no’ but Sophie didn’t really mind, the idea disappeared a few hours after announcing it. The next day they went on the beach in the morning and walked the surrounding coast path in the afternoon. Rose lay sunbathing with Lori whilst Jack, Paige and Ryan built sandcastles and went swimming in the sea. It looked warm and inviting with the sunshine glinting off the waves and making it sparkle a bright turquoise colour but, in reality, it was freezing and took a few minutes to acclimatise themselves. Shrieks of joy and horror at the temperature echoed across the beach the whole time the three of them were out in the sea. Sophie went searching for crabs and fish in rock pools but had no luck so she returned to paddle in the shallows and jump over incoming waves as they hit land. The fun continued all afternoon with games and quizzes being played throughout the walk which kept them all in hysterics.
During the rest of the week in Devon they visited Killerton, a local National Trust property; went to Exeter to do some shopping; spent another half day on the beach and went walking in the area; visited an English Heritage site and played crazy golf. Lori treated them to fish and chips by the seafront in the middle of their holiday and Jack bought ice creams twice. There was a huge array of flavours but the favourite between the six of them was decided as being ‘blackberries and cream.’ When the time to return home came, no one wanted to leave and when they eventually did get home they were tired, sweaty and strewn with sand but happy smiles were plastered across all their faces too.
Lori and Jack had tried their best to make the rest of the summer holidays as much fun but it wasn’t the same. Still, everyone had fun and all worries and concerns seemed to have drifted away from the forefront of people’s minds. It was a time for relaxation, family and fun which was what the Peterson’s were trying to cherish.
The summer was now over. A new school term was about to begin. After all the hard work of preparing for Rose to start at The De Winter Primary School and for Ryan to begin training at Abbey Park and a different style of lessons, everything was ready. Sophie was going to be continuing at ……… whilst Paige was going to be doing her GCSEs at ………………. No one had realised the problems that Paige was suffering from, or so she hoped at the very least. It wasn’t entirely surprising because Paige had an amazing talent for being able to hide her true feelings and put up a façade which showed the world that she was getting along perfectly well.
They had spent half of the summer searching for a new school uniform for Sophie because she had outgrown her old one: a grey pleated skirt, grey school tights, a white blouse, a blue cardigan with The De Winter Primary School badge on it and shiny black Velcro school shoes. Rose had also needed a new school uniform as she was moving to Foston High School where she would be required to wear: a black pleated skirt, white blouse, navy jumper with the school logo embroidered on the right hand side and a special black coat. It had been difficult to find all of them, especially with Rose being small for her age. Lori hadn’t complained once when she took Sophie and Rose shopping despite Sophie whimpering and throwing the occasional tantrum over not wanting new school clothes. However, everything had been found and now both Rose and Sophie looked like model pupils.
Whilst Lori had been helping to find clothes for the girls Jack had spent his summer looking for Ryan’s outfits, with a bit of assistance from Lori when Jack and Ryan were struggling! For the lessons at the athletics training Ryan needed: black trousers, a plain white polo shirt, a black sweatshirt and any brand of trainers, as long as they were excellent for running in! For training he had to have a navy or black tracksuit with another white polo shirt and trainers. It wasn’t difficult or complex but it was time consuming to find and make sure the fit was good with growing room. It was very rarely that Jack looked back at previous summers before the children had come, they seemed boring and uneventful now that he and Lori and children in their lives.
Sophie was waiting impatiently to leave with a pink and purple rucksack on her back containing lots of stationary and her packed lunch. Rose was bouncing nervously around the house, her eyes never staying still, always darting around. Paige had already left to walk to school, she had told Lori she was meeting Isabelle and Kitty before school today. Ryan had on his new outfit and had a lightweight sports bag strung across his back containing his lunch, school clothes and basic equipment.
“I’m nervous, Jack,” Ryan whispered. “I don’t think Tim will like me or be impressed with my running skills. I don’t think I’ve made the right decision.”
“He will, darling. Don’t worry. Lori and I are completely supportive of your decision. There’s no need to doubt yourself, it’ll be fine. You just need to do your best, that’s all. He’ll be pleased with that.” Jack tried to calm Ryan’s nerves as Ryan was nearly at bursting point and had begun to pace around in a similar way to Rose’s bouncing.
“Lori, I don’t want to go to!” Rose complained. “I don’t like…………. It’s big and scary and I don’t know many of the people there!”
“Darling, you have to go, and you know how much Paige has enjoyed herself there. There’s nothing to worry about.” Lori pleaded, she wanted what was best for the children but she hated to see them upset when there was nothing she could do. School was compulsory and it was time for Rose to move schools because that was how the system worked. Rose looked away from everyone, her face distorted into a sulky grimace.
As soon as the clock struck eight, Lori took Rose and Sophie to their schools in the shiny blue Clio and Jack walked Ryan to the top of the road where Tim was going to collect them. They had organized this when they had last met during the summer holidays because it would give Ryan an easier transition from home to being with completely new people.
Just as they arrived, Tim pulled up in his big, silver Mercedes. Ryan and Jack got in and looked at the smooth, shiny leather seats in amazement. They were smooth, slippery and felt brand new. They sat silently for the entire ten minute journey, taking in their surroundings. They were in awe of the exquisiteness of the car and how rich Tim must be to afford this type of grandeur.
“Feeling alright, Ryan?” asked Tim. He looked back at Ryan, concerned with the level of silence in the back seats. Ryan pulled an ‘I-feel-sorry-for-myself’ look.
“Yeah, I suppose so.” Ryan sighed. He wished he didn’t have to be there, it felt weird and uncomfortable.
It wasn’t long before they arrived at the training grounds. Jack got out and followed the directions Tim had given him to get to his office. Jack walked through a door labelled ‘Mr. Hewitt Only.’ Ryan and Tim followed Jack into the office. It was very big with papers scattered all over the desk and the floor. At the top of the untidy pile of papers there were a couple of pieces of paper containing a lot of information about Ryan. Ryan had a quick peak at the papers. Wow, he thought, a whole piece of paper all for him. Though, thinking about it, Ryan decided that the adoption agency must have papers on him too.
Name: Ryan Jacob Peterson
Age (when started training): 11
Birthday: 18th April 1998
Family Members: Johnathon Martin (Adoptive Father), Lorence Martin (Adoptive Mother), Paige Peterson, Rose Peterson, Sophie Peterson (Siblings)
Noticed at: The De Winter Primary School
Past experience: Sports Day’s
Medals/Trophies: ‘Best Runner’ (from Sports Day)
Train with: Timothy Hewitt
Hopes for athlete: Hopefully, go for gold in the Olympics and possibly put him in for little races like Teenage Championships first. I have high expectations for him.
Ryan turned back to Jack and Tim.
“Right then, we’ll start you off with Alexander, I think you have the same ability,” mused Tim thoughtfully. “Jack, if you feel happy and satisfied then you are welcome to leave Ryan whenever you want.”
“O.K. I’ll be going now then, if that’s’ alright with you Ryan?” Jack replied.
“Sure. I’ll see you later, yeah?” Ryan smiled.
“Yes. Bye, Ryan!”
“Bye Jack, see you later,” Ryan muttered, tension creeping into his voice.
He knew everything would be alright but he thought he had heard of this Alexander before and was certain that he was going to be evil. This worried Ryan a lot, what if’s flooding through his mind.
“Ryan, could you get changed into your tracksuit please. We will start in fifteen minutes or so.” Tim called from where he was logging onto his laptop.
“Sure.” Ryan called back.
He was ready for this. He would show Tim and what he was really made of, although he wasn’t quite sure himself. He ran off towards the changing rooms and pulled on his brand new black and red tracksuit and white polo shirt. He looked at himself in the mirror. Cool! He looked like a real athlete, almost an imitation of those at the Olympic Games. Then, he walked over to the track where Alexander and Tim were waiting for him.
“Hey Ryan, your tracksuit looks really cool!” Alexander shouted over to Ryan who blushed despite himself.
“Thanks, Alexander!” Ryan answered. He noticed that Alexander was wearing an expensive black and gold one. Thankfully, this Alexander didn’t look like the one that Ryan had envisioned him being. Relief swept through him and suddenly the day didn’t seem like it was going to be so bad after all. He might even have the chance to make a new friend.
“You can call me Alex if you want,” Alexander said, “Only my Mum calls me Alexander, and that’s when she’s angry!”
“Ok.” Ryan replied happily.
“Alex, Ryan, we’ll start off by having a slow jog around the track and then we will do some stretching. Off you go!” Tim ordered, giving the boys a gentle push.
Ryan stumbled forward; the track seemed too springy for his liking. But then Ryan had never run on proper athletic tracks before. Alex knew what he was doing though which made Ryan feel slightly better.
“Come on, Ryan. Just run like you usually do.” Alex shouted out encouragement. Ryan decided that he liked Alex. He had been wrong to misjudge him like that. Alex was really very kind and supportive.
Very soon, Ryan had finished jogging round the track and was stretching his legs using various methods. Tim had just told him how well he was doing and Ryan was feeling very proud and slightly big-headed.
“Ryan,” Tim’s voice cut through Ryan’s thoughts. “I want to see you run the one hundred metres. Get into your positions please.”
Ryan jogged to his place in the second lane from the middle. This was where he usually ran best on Sports Days. Alex went on the opposite side so he wouldn’t distract Ryan but could still get some practice at speed racing.
“Ready, Set, Go!” screamed Tim. Ryan was off; he felt like he was flying through the air, it was a wonderful feeling.
“Well done, Ryan! That was amazing, only fourteen seconds, fifteen. I’m impressed.” Tim smiled at Ryan.
“Wow, Ryan! You’re nearly faster than me and I’m pretty fast!” Alex commented.
“How fast are you, Alex?” Ryan asked shyly. He was desperate to know.
“I can run it in thirteen seconds forty-three.” Alex bragged. Wow, thought Ryan, I wonder if I’ll ever beat that.
“Lunch break and then lessons this afternoon, is that all right Ryan?” Tim asked. Tim had assured Jack that he would keep a special eye on Ryan to ensure he settled in well and did not feel uncomfortable.
“Sure,” Ryan said, he was starving from the morning’s hard work.
Ryan got out his packed lunch and tucked in. Lori had packed him two large egg mayonnaise sandwiches, a packet of Walkers cheese and onion crisps, a crisp, juicy rosy red apple and a slice of her gorgeous homemade gooey chocolate fudge cake. It tasted wonderful. Lori was an amazing baker, just like she had told them on the train when they had met for the first time.
In the afternoon, Ryan did a few lessons with three other boys’. Ryan sat next to a very clever boy called Matt and behind them were Callum, who was slightly snobbish and big-headed, and Jamie, who was cool and laid back.
The boy’s studied an hour of Maths which was really boring according to Ryan, as he hated Maths, an hour of Art in which the boy’s painted detailed pictures by Monet and an hour of science where they blew lots of things up and did experiments. Ryan enjoyed this part of the lesson the most. Then they had some free time for extra work before they were allowed to go home and rest for the next day’s work.
Ryan had thoroughly enjoyed the day and he was glad that he had the opportunity to do this. He had made friends with Alex, Matt and Jamie, so he knew he could rely on people at training. Ryan had had so much fun and he would have to tell Ben every single detail when he saw him again. Ryan knew Ben would be bursting to discover what his new life was like. And Ben would have so much to tell him about the new school he had moved to with Rose and the rest of their class from The De Winter Primary School.
When Ryan did see Ben again, there was a lot of excitement.
“Guess what? Lori and Jack let me do this running training! It’s from that man who was scouting for athletes at our last sports day. Do you remember?”
“Ah, yeah, I do. Really? You got chosen? Wow! No wonder you weren’t at Foston High School on Monday. I thought you might be ill. No one knew where you were and the teachers were none the wiser. Rose wasn’t in our class or I think she might have told them.” Ben cut in, “Tell me about it then!”
Ryan told Ben all about Alex, Matt, Jamie and Callum, the lessons he had had to complete and the things his class had blown up, like ants under a magnifying glass in the sun. Ryan talked about the training and what Tim expected from him. He told Ben that he would love it there too. Ben agreed that it sounded fabulous. He promised he would drop in one day after school had finished to see Ryan in action.
Throughout the whole explanation Ben remained silent, taking in all the detail that Ryan was telling him and making up daydreams of him going to all these competitions and him winning all of the medals, not Ryan. When Ryan eventually finished Ben asked hundreds of questions about life training for athletics. Ben was so envious of Ryan but he wasn’t going to show it, Ryan deserved it, after all. Ben had money, a big family with two sisters and three brothers and his parents let him do football, rugby and swimming so he shouldn’t complain about not having this opportunity when Ryan had been through so much trouble and trauma; Ben thought Ryan having this chance was a bit like a gift for bearing the bad times as well as he had, which was amazingly!