That summer inched by, an unrelenting crawl of hot, dry, dusty days. Lindy’s last school holidays before high school - she had wanted them to stretch forever. But here she was… The big school - big change for a small-town kid. Lindy sat nervously through the hot first morning. She didn’t make friends easily… She was in a pressure cooker, boiling on the summer heat. One endless class after another, she aimed for invisible - and just about made it. When the lunch bell rang, she tucked herself under a tree with her cheese sangas, and squirrelled nose-down re-reading ‘Harry Potter’.
“Hey - Lindy - come have a kick.” Clare was one of only three kids who had been at her Primary school.
“Nah… I’m right.” Lindy felt queasy.
“Come on… Do you good.” Clare dragged her onto the oval.
“You can play - can’t you?” A town kid looked dubious.
The game started half-hearted, hot in the sun. Lindy felt awkward, and wanted to hide. But the ball found her. She aimed a kick, and fell hard on her backside. The laugher wasn’t cruel, but it cut deep, and she wanted to crawl underground. In her despair, she hadn’t noticed the storm clouds gathering.
As a sudden gust blew from the south, a hand was offered in kindness…
“Best trick of the day”, Craig helped her up as the first drops of rain splashed puffs of dust. She smiled a half-smile.
The heavens opened in a roar, and Michelle threw her arm around her with a warm-hearted yell, “Too funny Lindy! Welcome to the team.” The timely rain fell hard, and Michelle swung Lindy until they both fell laughing dizzy back to the grass. As they regained their feet, the other kids circled in joy… The soccer ball left in a growing puddle near one goal.
Rain stuck streams of Lindy’s hair to her cheeks. Her drenched uniform hung long on her frame. She arched her back, looked up into the stinging downpour, and breathed - really breathed - for the first time that day.