Crouched on the starting block, my heart hammers in my chest. Waiting for the gun to go off has always been my most dreaded part of a swim meet. Will my flinch delay my dive into the water? A powerful start can make the difference between first and last place in any heat. And this isn’t just any heat. If I actually want to get my book Let Me Fall in print, it’s a heat I have to win.
The sound of the gun cracks the silence, and my legs propel me out in a clean dive. During the half-second my body is suspended over the water, I shift my focus to the swim. If I do what I’ve been told, I’ve got this race in the bag. But my thoughts are interrupted when my body grinds to a jiggly halt. I stand up sputtering. I’m not in water? Next to me, my competitors look just as confused. The taste on my lips finally registers and I realize what happened.
I’ve jumped into an Olympic-sized pool full of cherry-flavored Jell-O?
I hate cherry Jell-O.
Before I even have time to blink, I see movement in the lane to my left. My biggest competition, Fear, is making a beeline to the opposite end of the pool. How it moves so fluidly in gelatin, I do not know. Laziness—who was directly to Fear’s left—seizes the moment and catapults itself onto Fear’s back.
Finally gathering my wits, I push against the thick, wobbly goo. I land face-first in the gelatin a few times before I gain an awkward, slow-motion pace. I’m determined not to let Fear and Laziness best me. Suddenly feeling ogled, I cut my eyes to the right. It’s Boredom in the lane next to me. It stares dully at me while matching my stride.
Unnerved, I falter. Just in time to see Confusion hopping over lane ropes and heading my way. I try to block out its shouts of contradictory instructions, but they overpower my senses and render me momentarily useless. I find temporary relief when I clamp my hands over my ears. At least it’s muffled. I set my sights on the other end of the lane and propel my body forward once more. And ever so slowly, I close the gap between myself and the dynamic duo of Fear and Laziness.
A small object slams into my head and I jerk my hands off my ears to protect my face. Are you kidding me? To my right, Disorganization is actually standing on the pool deck, hurling anything with reach in my direction. My competitors do not fight fair. This is my last thought before slouching down in the Jell-O and beginning to cry.
To be continued…
Introducing… (In case you’re not yet up to speed.)