Authors: Thalia Kalkipsakis
Tags: #ebook, #book
I held my breath and crossed my fingers. Inside my runners, I tried to cross my toes. But there wasn’t enough room for that.
Pick me, pick me, pick me
, I said over and over in my head.
I was standing on our school netball courts in the cool winter sun. Around me was a crowd of kids. So I didn’t like my chances of being picked soon. Two classes is a lot of kids to choose from.
Callum was standing out the front with the five other team captains, deciding who to pick for his team.
‘Hey, Alex,’ whispered Becky beside me. ‘Hope we’re on Callum’s team.’
Becky’s my best friend in the whole world. Sometimes – like now – she can even read my mind.
‘Of course he’ll choose you!’ I said, and made a sloppy kissing sound.
Callum and Becky have known each other forever. They almost kissed once!
I knew Callum would choose Becky. He had already chosen his best friends, Mickey and Brad. That was why I was crossing my fingers – I wanted to stay with Becky. I didn’t want to be left out!
Becky just rolled her eyes at my kissing sound. She seemed calm.
But I wasn’t calm. I could feel my peanut butter sandwich churning around in my stomach.
The teams being chosen now were for a whole term of netball. If I made it onto a team with Becky and the gang, it would be a term of jokes and fun. But if I didn’t get picked with my friends, there was no telling what might happen.
Now it was Callum’s third pick. Becky stood straight and hopeful next to me.
‘Um … Becky,’ said Callum.
When she heard her name, Becky did a little jump and clapped her hands. Her blonde plaits bounced on her shoulders.
‘Don’t worry,’ Becky said, and winked. Then she headed out the front to stand with Callum, Mickey and Brad.
Now I was on my own. And I
worried. Callum was good friends with Becky. But he was only friends with me
Will he choose me for his team?
He wasn’t going to choose me for my netball skills, that’s for sure. In fact, no-one was going to choose me for my netball skills. Balls and me? We don’t really mix.
If I try to throw a ball somewhere, it’s more likely to end up anywhere except where I want it to go. Around me, balls have a mind of their own.
And catching them? Let’s just say, it’s really hard to catch a ball with your eyes squeezed shut. So I was going to be left until the end – with all the kids that no-one wants on their team. Whoever got stuck with me would spend all term wishing that I wasn’t on their team. And I was going to spend all term wishing the same thing.
Callum’s team was my only hope.
Soon my peanut butter sandwich felt like wobbly mush in my stomach. I wasn’t standing in the middle of a crowd anymore. Most kids had already been picked for a team.
I was standing in a row with about ten other left-overs. None of us were any good at sport.
The captains were scratching their heads and frowning. It felt pretty bad, as if we had a sign over our heads, saying WE CAN’T PLAY NETBALL.
Callum had chosen two more people after Becky – Angie and Claire. Angie and Claire were both on Callum’s basketball team. We call them the Basketball Girls. They’re tall and good at sport. It made sense that he picked them.
Now was the last chance for Callum to pick me. I held my breath.
Then I heard it. The word I wanted so much to hear. ‘Alex!’
When Callum called my name, he laughed, as if he had been planning to choose me all along. Maybe he
count me as a friend. With a cheer, I ran up and hugged Becky. Angie and Claire did a high five.
‘This team is going to be so awesome!’ said Claire.
It felt good to escape the left-overs, but I felt sorry for them, too.
Tony, a boy in the other class, was the last one left. Tony’s really bad at sport. Even worse than me. And that’s saying something!
When he was finally picked, Tony did a silly cheer with both arms in the air. But I knew that inside he must have felt bad.
Then Mr Dwyer clapped his hands. He’s our P.E. teacher and he’s pretty cool. He calls me ‘Awesome Alex’, even though I’m not awesome at sport. Mr Dwyer is nice to everyone.
‘All right, people!’ called Mr Dwyer, clapping his hands again to get our attention. ‘Take a seat while I explain what’s going to happen.’
There was shuffling and chatting as everyone sat. The ground felt rough and hard under my legs. But I didn’t mind. All I could think about was how glad I was to be on a team with my friends.
‘The netball tournament starts in two weeks,’ called Mr Dwyer.
Callum gave us all a thumbs-up, as if he was expecting us to win.
‘Next week, I want you to get to know your team,’ continued Mr Dwyer. He paced in front of us like an army captain in front of his troops. ‘Some team members have good ball skills and lots of experience. Others have less experience,’ he added.
I didn’t look at Mr Dwyer when he said that. I knew he was talking about people like me.
brings something special to their team,’ called Mr Dwyer, and punched his fist in the air. ‘I want you all to remember that.’
I brushed an ant off my leg.
brings something special?
Around balls, nothing I did was special.
But at least, when I did nothing special this term, I would be doing it with my friends.
‘I’m out the back!’ called Mum, when she heard me get home from school.
I pinched two rice balls from the fridge. Then I went out the back door to see Mum. The rich smell of fresh soil met me. I had to step carefully to keep my shoes clean.
‘How was school?’ asked Mum.
She shook dirt from a bunch of carrots and dropped them in a basket.
‘Good,’ I said, as I munched on a rice ball. ‘I’m on a netball team with Becky and the gang.’
Mum wiped a strand of hair from her forehead and left a smudge of dirt. ‘Really! That’s like basketball, is it?’