“Hey guys, here”s the nearly boy.” The two hangers-on smirked at Adam”s familiar joke. “See- you were nearly on time today- again, Sammy.”
Adam prodded him hard in his chest. The radiator burned through Sam”s sweatshirt. “Just like you nearly made it into the football team and you”ve nearly saved up enough for an iPhone.” Adam whipped out his own iPhone and took a photo of himself beaming beside a pinioned Sam.
They both knew there was no way soon Sam would be getting any tech. Money was tight at home. Though Sam”s initiative of an Ebay shop, where he”d sold off pretty much anything he could find in the house, had helped his family over the worst patch, immediately after his Dad had abandoned them.
Sam hated the “nearly” nickname he”d been given. He felt it too accurately summed him up. He hated being 14, nearly a grown up, nearly a man, but not treated as one. Though at home he”d taken on that role. Elsewhere he was always on the fringes, nearly there but not quite.
He lashed out with his right foot at Adam. Adam skipped backwards. “Word is your mum nearly got out of bed today,” he taunted.
Sam was furious. He twisted his arms against the two lads holding him, but three against one was too much for him to beat.
The gym doors opened and one of the P.E. teachers who taught Sam appeared. Mr Weston looked surprised to see the little gathering, but quickly sized up the situation. “Give me your phone Adam and move on you two.” He frowned at the lads holding Sam down.
The lads shuffled off and Mr Weston held open the gym door for Sam. “Come on in will you?”
Inside he turned to Sam. “Parkour”s * your thing, isn”t it?” he asked.
Sam nodded, surprised his teacher knew about the sport. It was his passion. Parkour also had the advantage of being cheap. Sam could work out all over town, using the street furniture as his own obstacle training course. It helped him let off steam and keep his head straight.
“I”ve seen you in P.E., you”re really good at the vaulting, jumping and climbing. I”m going to set up a Parkour club after school. I need an assistant, you could train for your qualifying certificate and I”m sure with the funding I”m applying for I could then pay you by the hour.”
While Mr Weston had been talking, Sam had slowly sat upright, uncurling his slouched spine and pushing back his shoulders.
“Perhaps you could show me what sort of parkour moves you”ve been practising?” his teacher asked.
“Now?” Sam was surprised at the invite.
Mr Weston nodded and pointed at the gym equipment. Sam had never had the opportunity of all the space to himself before. He usually shared it with thirty other lads.
He felt his chest expand with excitement. He slowed down his breathing, closed his eyes and visualized in his head his parkour plan. Then he ran for the vaulting horse. He sprinted, flipped, jumped and somersaulted around the room, barely pausing in between each move. He was fluid, he was free and weightless. He was flying. Nothing else mattered.
Mr Weston clapped his hands and Sam shoulder rolled to a finish on the mats. “You”re up for it? It will be a lot of work on top of your school work remember.”
“I can cope. I can do it. Of course I”ll have to check at home if it”s OK,” Sam added hastily.
Mr Weston nodded. “I”d expect you to. I”ll give you a letter to take home.”
Sam jogged out of the school gates, did a leapfrog over the litter bin and raced to pick up his sister from the nearby primary school. He beat his own personal best time and was at the gates before Millie pottered out, clutching her artwork and her pink rucksack. His heart twisted when he saw her, his 8 year old sibling, whom Dad had so easily tossed aside for a new shiny life. He would never do that, he promised himself.
Waving at his little sister, Sam realised Adam”s words didn”t matter or hurt any longer. He was no longer the nearly boy.
* Parkour:-the activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically in an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing.