Girl Half Empty

//What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in//
- Simone de Beauvoir
/June winner of the diary competition/

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22. //Sometimes, my entire childhood seems like one long lazy summer day//

June 12th

These days I walk home from ballet alone; I walk the long way so that I can prolong my escapism. When I walk I think. When I think I write. When I write I feel full and hollow at the same time. So many words… but they all spill out and leave me rinsed.

When I was a kid I used to flit from my ballet lessons to my bike saddle. I’d spend Saturday afternoons racing the hours around the housing estate with a collection of friends. When I got hot I would strip to my leotard and shorts and I was still young enough to feel ‘cool’ as I watched my arms grow long and brown with tan shading in the gaps between the freckles.

Sometimes our exuberance would lead us beyond our limits, it would drag us further down and further out to the cricket fields where we’d laugh at the ceremony of white and green and the sound of the appreciative welcome that greeted each gun-crack of ball on bat. We’d skim the ground and skin our bare feet when we scraped low around the corners. We chased each other’s tails and wondered how we could extend ourselves forever.

Our bikes set us on pedestals but they also set us free, sometimes I think that I’ll never again feel so ‘grown up’ as I did on those afternoons – loose and reckless and savage.

I was always the fastest. I was also the smallest but ballet had turned me lithe and strong so that I could command my bike more effectively than the others could. There was a crater in the middle of the housing estate that seemed to have no purpose for existing. A sink hole, perhaps, had vacuum formed it from beneath into a steep-sided bowl. Or maybe the sky had leant down to take a bite from it with an ice-cream scoop.

That crater was my pride and joy; not the thing itself but the fearlessness I could construct around it. Of the four of us, I was the only one who was brave enough to hurtle through it like a stunt man on a BMX and the thrill of plunging then rising was so immense that I would rush at it over and over. Perhaps I hoped it might grow steeper with each assault. The others, with saintly patience and un-saintly envy, would watch my obnoxiousness from a slight distance, as though afraid that they might tumble after me if they came to close.

I taught myself to ride with one hand, and then with none. Providing an absence of corners, I was able to apply both hands to my hair as I pedalled which only increased my sense of superiority. I never attempted the crater with no hands, though – I knew where to draw the line. I was brave back then, which is funny because I’ve never been brave about anything else.

Now I draw the line everywhere. I cross out everything with it and colour myself in with doubt. I scarcely move for fear of crossing it.
 

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