“I want to be an orthopedic surgeon.”
“What are your goals for the future, Frankie?”
“Umm I’m not quite sure yet.” Her whole life, Frankie felt she was going around waiting for something. That at some point suddenly the light would not only turn on but shatter and she would realise her grand purpose and everything would make sense. But as she was nearing her final year of high school, she was starting to get skeptical as to why she felt just as in the dark, as when she was first asked to answer the seemingly boundless choice as a 12-year-old. She knew she wanted to backpack around the coast but this was not a full-time occupation and certainly not a comparable goal to the future cardiologists she was competing with.
“Hey Frankie, are you on the bus?” Piper yelled as she rushed to catch up to her.
“Yeah I am, reckon I’ll just sleep though, I’m that dead,” she said yawning. She sank into the seat disrupting the dust that had settled. “No one told you when to run. You missed the starting gun,” echoed in her mind. She wondered if she had wasted her life waiting to start living. On the walk home, she had dreamt of summer and from then on, she had spent every waking minute of the rest of the school year imagining summer. She felt nostalgic for a world she was yet know, the moments she was yet to live.
Summer had its own form of time. The sun beamed down through the cloudless sky blazing its face well into the afternoon. The days melted into one another, casting an endless haze on life. The fan offered no comfort to Frankie. She felt as though an oven door had been opened pushing stale, heavy and dry air sluggishly past her face. She had become increasingly itchy and restless sitting on the sofa as if she was allergic to the heat. She lunged off the couch and into her brother’s room and stood at his door silently. Looking around she searched for something to say, but a skateboard caught her attention.
“I bet I’m better than you,” Frankie exclaimed, Levi scoffed and sat up.
“At what? Skateboarding?” he said rolling his eyes.
“Prove it,” he said putting his shoes on. Levi confidently stood on the board, bending down as he took a large step. Levi was throttled down the hill. As the air resisted he felt a rush of adrenaline overcome him. He was on an old rickety roller coaster with no seat belt being plummeted into the pitch-black emptiness. As the board lingered to a stop he was warmed with the soothing feeling of security.
“Your turn.” Frankie patiently waited as the board mounted its way over each piece of bitumen. She took a deep breath as she prepared to disappear down into the pitch-black hill. The skateboard began creeping. It gained momentum, then suddenly reaching its tipping point it hurled Frankie down the hill. Each time Frankie stumbled onto the board and it began the steep and rapid descent, the air offered a wake up call. Frankie’s whole body had been taken over by the sensation of cool mint toothpaste which lingered on her eyes.
“Next time I’ll be better than you,” Frankie said assuredly. All Frankie thought of that night was skating and that she had to become better than her brother. Levi and I were out skating every night for the rest of that week, each time becoming undeservedly more confident.
Frankie grabbed the board and rushed outside to her driveway. She stood confidently on the board just as she had done on the hill, but it did not begin to roll and instead was stationary. Frankie was stuck. She lifted her back foot off the board and was projected forward as if she was expelled from a cannon.
Frankie did not skate for weeks after the fall, she had been disenchanted and scared. She did not want to make a fool of herself in front of everybody on her street and certainly did not want to be called be a poser.
Overtime Frankie built the confidence to leave the comfort of her smooth driveway and venture to the unknown, the skate park. She hid behind her board, worried she would see someone she knew and instantly questioned as to whether she could skate. At the start hopping on the board and pushing took a string of calculated efforts. But gradually Frankie could do one more part of a trick or just push a little more recklessly without fear of disrupting the balance. Frankie became hooked on the indescribable sense of freedom skateboarding provided her.
Bennie was a regular at Frankie’s local skate park. He was intimidating at first, a stern-faced guy who looked like he surfed the obstacles. He glided as if he was in the water and not on harsh unforgiving concrete. Frankie felt a sense of comfort when Bennie was at the skate park. Now and then they would grow sick of their repeated failures of a trick and would collapse.
“When I get home, I have to do a math assignment.” Bennie said wiping the sweat from this forehead.
“Well, why are you here Bennie?”
Bennie smirked, “because I don’t want to do my assignment, I just want to do this.”
Frankie understood this feeling. It was one she had worked to bury and instead think of the long-term goal. Even though she wasn’t looking forward to the long-term goal set for her, a 9-5 job.
“Benny, what do you want to do in the future?”
“Well… first on my list of making my life something worth living is, backpacking around the coast.”
Frankie smiled and a familiar sense of warmth filled her, “Me too.” Frankie skated every night of that summer with the backdrop of a painted sky, the relief of coolness in the air and the comfort of finally realising that she did not need to wait until the right moment to start living.