january short story practice with Hele.
prompt: “tell the story of a scar”
he had always been gifted at sports of all kinds, so it was a real blow when he played cricket for the first time – in his early twenties – and found that he just couldn’t get it at all.
mother was also confused.
norris! she said, crossly. you had better get practicing! let’s try a few rounds now.
norris sighed. he didn’t want to disappoint mother. she was so proud of his sporting achievements, polishing the trophies every saturday night after he was tucked into bed. but practice just wasn’t working this time.
he followed her onto the lawn.
mother herself was a dreadful sportswoman, always had been. she could barely hold a ball, let alone throw it. norris had to stand just a few feet in front of her to have any hope of the ball reaching him, and he would leap backwards as he made his clumsy hit, so as not to whack her on the chin.
each time, the ball would roll from the bat and thud solidly to the ground, without so much as a small bounce in the direction of the wicket.
he threw the bat to the ground in frustration.
norris! exclaimed mother. now now. i’ll go and make us some horlicks.
norris sat down on the rockery and examined his knee. a long, thin scar lay like a pink worm straight across it. the funny thing was, he couldn’t think where on earth it had come from. he had first noticed it on sports day, when they’d had that cricket demo. as soon as he’d picked up the bat, he had felt it twinge.
it was twinging again now.
he pressed his warm cheek onto his knee. the scar was cold against it. he closed his eyes and imagined its ends peeling back and giving his face a little hug with its two tiny worm arms. he felt briefly warm and happy.
norris! he heard mother shouting from the kitchen. the horlicks must be ready. he rose, stretched, and wandered into the house.
mother stared at him in horror.
norris! she cried, her hand gripping the worktop. your face!
touching his cheek, norris felt the long wormy ridge running from eye to chin. he ran upstairs to his room, closed the door, and stood in front of the mirror. in its reflection, he saw a neatly packed bag lying on the bed.
norris! he heard mother shouting from downstairs.
he stared at his unfamiliar reflection.
the scar began to move – just the ends at first, waving gently.
why cricket? he heard himself say.
the arms shrugged. it had to end somewhere. besides, you hate sports.
…and horlicks. the worm ventured.
no, no i like horlicks. Norris felt weakly protective.
well, anyway, said the worm, gesturing towards the bag. let’s get out of here.