“Space Case!” The child’s head snaps up at the sound of the much loathed, over used nick-name, “I was talking to you!” The gym teacher yelled as random muscles in his neck bulge and twitch.
“What?” The small girl asked hoping against hope he actually had a question for her to answer, she could answer questions.
“It’s your turn Space.” Sneered one of the twenty or so classmates standing huddled in the center of the gym. The child’s peers snicker and whisper as their scrawny classmate stands and warily starts towards the fifty foot rope in the middle of the group. Their scoffing only adding to the apprehension building in the girl’s stomach.
She steps up to the rope and smiles to her self, remembering how hard she worked this summer. When school was out she had tied a rope to a branch and worked hard all summer till she could climb to the top.
“GET MOVING SPACE!” She jumps as the teacher yells from just behind her, deafening her to the incessant chittering of her audience.
She wipes the sweat from her hands and grips the rope looking up it’s length to the ceiling, and out the window just above the rafter the rope was tied to.
I can do this. Just like with the tree. She thinks as she starts her way up.
The first few feet are easy enough, She makes it a few feet above her teacher’s head and looks down at the surprise on her tormentors’ faces. She smiles and works harder reaching the middle of the rope. But by then her muscles have started to burn and she can feel the sweat running down her face. The heat from the glaring window doesn’t help.
“Keep going Space!” Calls a well meaning class mate, but after the silence the sound of a classmate’s voice suprises her and she slips. Only three feet, but at twenty feet it is disheartening.
She clings to the rope now, her eyes closed to keep the sweat out, trying not to hear the buzzing voices below her.
“KEEP IT MOVING SPACE!” yells the gym teacher.
She hangs for a minute more determined not to move until her grip is better.
“She can’t do it, She never has.” She hears another classmate laugh as he tells the teacher. She turns to glare fire at the classmate and pulls her self up a few more feet inching up slowly.
“Space, Come back down, I know and you know you did your best, it just isn’t enough kid.” The teacher’s voice is soft, with pity, but still booming as it reaches her.
Her ears start to buzz, anger that they feel the need to pity her, shame that she might still not make it, and a deep throbbing pain at the realization that the teacher may be right. That maybe her best isn’t enough.
She pulls her self painfully up still, the window only fifteen or so feet above her, she can feel her stringy muscles bunching and ripping. She can’t see much any more through the sweat and the small amount of tears filling her eyes. Her hands start to slip. She reaches up but her hand slips down instead of pulling her body up. The doubt has set in.
“Come on Space quit fooling around, the rest of us have to climb.” Yells another voice from below.
Through the tears she looks down and sees them. Their red and black uniforms making the blurry out line that of the demons she saw them as. She knew the torture wouldn’t end until she climbed that rope. She knew her body was over taxed, that this rope was three times the height of that in the tree at home. But the pain and humiliation she would have to endure if she went down with out hitting that rafter. It was better to stay here and keep trying, than to go back down. That pain would be far worse than that of her shoulders and back could ever provide. She knew none of them would understand that the pain of the mind could be so much worse than pain of the physical body.
She managed to inch up. A foot or so left it looked like. Maybe once she hit the rafter she could climb onto it to rest until she could get back down. She had long since blocked out the shouts of the students and the teacher, but as her defeat became more and more clear her hearing came back and the tears soaked her face far more than her sweat had, the pain making everything sharper. She looked down at the angry faces, at the pitying faces, the laughing faces, and pulled harder. Her hands began to slip. She couldn’t hold it much longer, she felt her breath catch as the realization hit her she was going to fall.
Her anger was no longer enough, nor was her hatred, her fear, or her pure will. She thought of how her brothers bullied her about spending her entire summer trying to get ready for this. About how her parents had told her it was just a different kind of test. The girl knew about tests, She was good at them usually. Better than any one of the pests below. They never listened though. They were only nice when they needed to pass a class, or when they were boosting answers off of her. Even then, they didn’t always listen, failing to hear her warning about the weak point in the bridge they had built. The few F’s she had ever received were group projects. The ones she hadn’t been popular enough to be listened to in. The few she hadn’t taken over and done on her own, and let her class mates write their names on. But with out her… they would fail… they to would feel the scorn, sure they could run and climb, and throw balls at each other till they were all blue in the face, but they wouldn’t pass classes without her. And her ideas, they would be so very much better off if they had simply listened. She smiled, a calm reaching her center as her fingers slipped a little more.
She left go of the rope and let the air catch her. She heard them screaming as if from a far distance and laughed at the irony of it all. The air rushing past her was wonderful. She opened her eyes for the last time as the screams grew closer and watched the patch of rectangular light that was the window shrink. To bad she thought. I always wanted to fly.
The funeral was quick and quiet. A few tears and a short eulogy followed. The police had gone through her small cluttered room finding notebook upon notebook full of strange designs, and formulas in odd characters. Unable to comprehend them they threw them away.