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In Part 14 the swim team had finally gotten super short haircuts after Gail, the youngest member of the team had taken the plunge and gotten a conservative chelsea. The received positive feedback from the other members of the team as well as the five amigas. There are no dramatic haircuts in this episode, just a culmination of many events that had been alluded to in previous episodes. The definitive meet with the Wasena Dolphins teams dominates the story. There are other references that lead to interesting future haircuts.

Week 6 – Some Interesting Events and Good News.

Tuesday

The swim team members had assembled earlier than usual for their morning workout in the gym. The four younger girls on the team had arrived a few minutes later.

“Wow Janet, that is so wild,” Ellen said. “I can’t believe you did that. Is it shaved smooth except for the bangs?”

“Yeah, it is. I did it myself this morning. Kate did it smoother than I could, but I going to do it every day. I think I’ll be able to do it almost as well as Christine does hers by the end of the week,” she laughed.

“Look at Jessie” Sharon exclaimed. “She’s bald just like Christine.”

“Not quite Sharon, but next week I’m going to get it shaved like Christine. I already like the way it looks and feels, but I really want it to be smooth.”

“Hey Gail, that is a very neat looking style. I’ve never seen that before,” Ellen finally saw Gail.

“I like it. I think it’s very cool, but I am going to get it shaved smooth except for the fringe. Later I may get it all shaved smooth.” This last came as a surprise to the other swimmers.

“Are you serious?” Janet asked.

“Yes I am. I always liked the way Christine looked and now that you and Jessie are practically shaved I realized I like the way you two look, so I’m pretty sure I’ll get mine shaved smooth. If we all make the swim team next fall, I’ll keep it shaved as long as the rest of you do. It will be exciting to be a bald swimming team.”

“That would be so cool,” Jessie said.

The rest of the Amigas showed up about then and caught sight of the swimming team. They rushed up to take a look at the other girls.

Janet singled out Beth. “Hey, Beth, I liked your haircut so much that I decided to copy it. What do you think?”

“That’s neat Janet. Is it shaved smooth like mine. I guess it is,” Beth observed.

“I can’t make it as smooth as Kate yet, but give me a week and I think I have the hang of it,” Janet answered.

“This is so funny guys. Now we have two teams that have a bunch of kids who are bald or have really short haircuts,” Cindy observed. “I think you all look super good.”

“Well, we liked Christine’s bald head and she kept working so hard that we had to try to keep up. Pretty soon we figured out that we had made her our team Captain. Our haircuts just sort of seemed what we needed to do to make us a special team, and show our team spirit,” Janet explained.

“It’s great to have so many kids deciding to be bald or almost bald. I guess you’ll all have to join the Bald Girls’ Mothers Club,” Melissa laughed.

“What’s that Melissa?” Gail asked.

“Christine can tell you. We have to go to soccer practice. Let’s go guys.”

“I was sure that there would never be another girl my age who was bald, but now I have all kinds of bald girlfriends. Mrs. Quinalt, Tess’s Mom, suggested it I think, or maybe it was Sandy’s Mom. Anyway, Penny’s Mom helped organize it and now we’ll all be going to a meeting of the Club every month at the Herb Garden. I’m sure you and your Moms would be invited. Why don’t you ask them if they would like to come. I thinks it’s on Sunday in two weeks,” Christine explained.

The swimming team’s coach got a laugh out of seeing her four top swimmers with their unique haircuts, but she was impressed by the dedication they had all shown and their obvious desire to be a team and supportive of each other.

By four O’clock they were exhausted, but exhilarated by the results that they had achieved. Everyone had improved their time in at least one event.

The Soccer and Volleyball teams were still improving and were working hard in anticipation of their big meet with Wasena.

While the rode home on their bikes, Christine remembered Cindi’s remark. “Cindi, do you really like the haircuts that the team got yesterday? I thought you liked long hair. Have you changed your mind?”

“I guess I still like long hair, but not as much as I used to. Seeing Janet, Gail and Jessie with those haircuts make me think that the four of you really want to do everything together and so you are even being alike with your short haircuts. The five of us do everything together too, and I really want us to be a super team, so I wonder if I should have a short haircut too.”

“No way Cindi. You guys are a great team already and it doesn’t matter what your hairstyle is. Getting it cut won’t make the team any better. Isn’t that right Melissa?” Christine asked looking for positive feedback from Melissa.

“She’s right Cindi. You’re a very important part of our team. Just because four of us like our hair short and you like yours long doesn’t mean anything. We all like your hair the way it is. You should never think we want you to cut it just to be more like us.”

Unbeknownst to Melissa, her little speech of reassurance had an effect than was the opposite of what she intended. Cindi understood the intent, but realized she did want to be more like the other amigas. When she thought that her Father wanted her to have long hair, the urge to be more like the others had not been very strong, but now she realized she did not want to look so different from the others. She had loved Beth’s haircut and had urged Audra to get hers cut. So now she was the only one of the five to have much hair at all. At first that seemed like it would make her stand out, but now she realized she wanted to be an integral part of the group. None of the others ever showed off even the tiniest bit. They all worked together as though they were extensions of each other. Cindi didn’t want to be different from them even in the way she looked.

“Thanks, Melissa, but I still think it would be more fun if we all had super short haircuts. I don’t won’t to be the one that is different.”

“That’s silly Cindi. There are lots girls on the soccer team that have hair as long as yours. You shouldn’t even think about it” Christine admonished.

“I guess you’re right, but if I decide to see what it’s like to have short hair, I’ll cut it anyway,” Cindi responded.

“Well that’s OK Cindi. Just so it’s really what you want. We’re going to stay together as a team no matter what kind of haircuts we have,” Melissa reassured her.

“Thanks, Melissa. See you guys tomorrow.” Cindi said as they reached the street where she turned off.

“See ya.”

Cindi puzzled over her reaction on the way home. She was beginning to realize that she truly did like the look of Beth’s chelsea cut with its little bangs and smooth shave everywhere else. It did not seem strange at all. It was just cute. And Audra’s nearly shaved head made her look elegant despite being only fourteen. And of course, Penny’s extremely short pixie cut suited her perfectly. And Melissa. Why had she acted like that when she first saw Melissa with her head shaved? Melissa looked good with her smooth head, maybe not as good as Audra, but really good. By the time she got to her home she had come to a decision. She parked her bike and went in.

“Hi, Mother I’m home.”

“Hello Dear, How about some iced tea.”

“Thanks Mother. We worked really hard today. I need to shower.”

“You do look a little ragged. It looks like your hair is still damp with sweat too,” Michelle laughed.

“It is Mother and that’s what I wanted to ask you about. I decided I want to go to Kate’s shop
and get a haircut. Not really short like the others, but a lot shorter and a little different. It would still be long enough to be in a pony tail,” Cindi explained.

“Oh dear, Cindi. Are you really sure you want to do that? Maybe you should ask you Dad if it would be OK with him. I’ll be glad to take you if you truly want it. You’re not doing it because of the other girls all have their short are you,” Michelle asked.

“No, Mother. None of them want me to get it cut. They’re afraid that I might do it because they all have short hair or no hair at all,” she giggled. “I think maybe I do like short hair. I really like Beth’s and Audra’s haircuts. And I think Penny looks really cute. I like the way Melissa looks too. When I think about getting mine cut it seems exciting and not scary at all,” Cindi explained.

“Let’s talk to your Dad. Maybe I’ll join you in your adventure.” Michelle replied, reassured by Cindi’s answer.

“Thanks, Mother. I better go shower and shampoo this hair,” she said with a hint of frustration in her voice.

Cindi reappeared forty five minutes later with partially dried hair, but otherwise clean and with fresh shorts and top.

“Do you need me to help?” she asked.

“Sure. Get the napkins from the cupboard and set the table for us. I’m still working on these salads.”

“OK”

It was seven thirty and dinner was over. The twins had disappeared and uncharacteristically Cindi was still at the table.

Finally James realized that something was up. “That was an excellent meal Michelle. I wasn’t expecting anything special in the middle of the week like this, but I certainly appreciate it. Cindi, I think you have something on your mind. Would you like to share it with me?”

“OK Dad. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I want to get my hair cut. Not super short like Penny or Audra, but a lot shorter than it is now. Is that OK?”

“Well, of course it is Cindi. You shouldn’t keep your hair long just for me. I think you will be just as wonderful even if you had hair as short as your friend Penny. You’re a responsible young lady and you should have the right to cut your hair the way you want it,” James responded.

Christine and Melissa had started his change of attitude, but James had been bowled over by Steffie and Heather. When Chris had said that he thought Heather looked stupendous with her buzz cut he had completely changed. That was when he had told the reporter that he thought that Michelle would look good with a cut like Paula’s or Heather’s.

“James, Cindi wants me to take her to Kate’s shop. I’m thinking of getting my hair cut too. Will you be OK with that?” Michelle asked.

“Absolutely Michelle. You will look wonderful with any style you choose. You should do exactly what you want,” he responded.

For Michelle it was a momentous occasion. A barrier had suddenly collapsed.


At the Quinalt house the phone rang. Abby answered it. “Of course, just a minute Brian. I’ll get her.”

“It’s for you Tess. It’s Brian,” Abby said with a lilt in her voice. Tess had dated a few boys, none of whom Abby thought much of, but Brian was different. The fact that he had taken an interest in a bald girl had set him apart in Abby’s view. Besides she knew that if he had parents like Leigh and Ray and a sister like Beth he was very likely to be a level headed and responsible young man.

“Hi, Brian.”

” Hi Tess. I enjoyed the barbecue yesterday. There were a lot of interesting people there. I like them. How about you?”

“It was fun. I would never have imagined being with so many bald girls.”

“Well that was pretty amazing, but they all looked good, especially you. Would you like to take in a movie on Saturday?”

“Sure. I would like that. What time should I be ready?”

“What time do you need to be back home?”

“Usually by ten, but it’s eleven on Saturday.”

“Ten is OK. How about if I pick you up at about five. We can stop at the deli for something to eat and still get to the seven thirty show.”

“That sounds like fun Brian. I’ll be ready at five.”

Abby listened to Tess’s side of the conversation and smiled to herself. She could tell that Tess had found Brian to be the kind of guy that appealed to her, especially since Brian seemed to be quite attracted to her shaved head. She had a strong feeling that she would be getting her own head shaved in late August. She looked forward to it.

Wednesday

As he had promised, Tommy was present on Wednesday to observe when Christine took did her final trials to earn her life saving and rescue swimming certificate. He sat in a deck chair placed discretely back from the pool, but plainly visible to Christine. Some of the tasks were arduous. Christine conditioning stood her in good stead throughout the process. When it was over, the instructor announced their cumulative scores. Christine had the highest score. Two girls had not made the cut. Christine turned toward Tommy and gave him a quick fist pump. He responded with a thumbs up.


Paula had been trying to keep up with the work of scheduling the agents as well as editing the new sales brochure which she had largely designed, when the phone rang. The receptionist said that it was from the school board.

“I’ll take it Eve. Thanks”

“Hello, this is Paula Jenner.”

“Mrs. Jenner, I’m Doreen McWilliams the administrative assistant for the Board. I wanted to tell you that there are a few more vacancies at Forest High for ninth grade students. But you will need to get Christine’s application in by the end of the week or early next week at the latest, otherwise it is likely that the school will be full.

“Oh, that’s wonderful. Yes, I understand. Will someone be available if I come over about twelve fifteen to get the papers?”

“I’ll leave the application forms with the receptionist. You can pick them up from her. You know that normally we would not make this exception, but Christine has such an excellent academic record and her progress as a swimmer has been so exceptional that both the Crown Point principal and our swimming coach have recommended that she be allowed to switch to Forest High a year early.

“OK, I’ll definitely be there. To pick them up. Thank you very much. Christine will be very happy. I’m very proud of her and what she has accomplished. She really did it on her own. I never had to do more than just remind her very occasionally about her work. She and Melissa both are terrific girls.”

“One thing that I”m curious about. I heard that neither she nor her sister have any hair. Is that right.”

“Oh yes. You heard right. They are both quite bald. They are that way by choice. I hope being bald is not an impediment. As I understand it, the entire Forest High Swim team is likely to be bald. All of Christine’s teammates are bald and Tess Quinalt is also bald. From what I’ve heard they all intend to remain bald for the foreseeable future.”

“You’re serious aren’t you. Well the school isn’t going to discriminate against bald girls, but it is certainly out of the ordinary. Don’t they receive a lot of negative comments and such?”

“Actually no, but I expect that will change somewhat at Forest. Still, I think those girls will stick together and refuse to be bothered by it. They have become very confident and self-assured.”

“I don’t doubt it. They would have to be, to do what they have done. I wish them every success.”

“Thank you again Doreen. I’ll certainly be over just after noon to get the papers.”

When Paula hung up she thought the conversation. ‘Next year may be a difficult one for Christine and all the other girls for that matter,’ she thought.

An hour later, she left the office promptly at noon and drove to the main board of Education office to pick up the needed forms.

As the work day came to a close she was eager to leave and tell Christine the good news.

“I’m home girls. I have go
od new Christine,” she called up the stairs.

“What is it Mom,” Melissa asked as she raced down the stairs.

“Wait ’till Christine gets here. There you are. You’re in Christine. They said you can attend Forest. Your Principal and the Forest swimming coach recommended that you be admitted, Congratulations,” Paula told her excitedly.

“Wow, Mom. That is great. I was really bummed out thinking that I would have to stay at Elmwood.”

“We have to fill out an admission form and get it back soon or they may have all the slots filled. So let’s do it tonight and I’ll take it back tomorrow.”

“OK. I’ll help with dinner.”

“Me, too. I’m really glad for you Christine, but I’m sad that we won’t be in the same school. I guess it’s not too bad since it’s only a year if I can take ninth at Forest,” Melissa remarked.

“I hope you can Melissa. It will seem strange not to see you at school,” Christine responded.

Christine was eager to share the news with Tommy, but she had offered to help with dinner. Besides she had never called Tommy. She hesitated, not sure what to do.

“Christine, aren’t you going to call Tommy and tell him?” Melissa asked.

“I wasn’t sure I should. I can tell him tomorrow I suppose.”

“Of course it’s OK to call him,” Paula said. “It’s important to both of you.”

“Thanks, Mom. I wasn’t sure. I’ve never called him at home before.”

She rushed to the other phone to share the good news.

Paula heard her voice as she excitedly told Tommy the news. She smiled thinking how fortunate she was to have girls like Christine and Melissa.

Thursday

Paula and Christine had spent the evening making sure that they had the application forms filled out exactly right. To Christine it seemed to be an awful lot of questions to answer for such a simple request, but Paula told her that there was no way around it. They finally got everything done as accurately as they knew how.

Paula placed the forms in a brown envelop which she took to the office on her lunch hour.

“Can you check it please,” she asked the receptionist. “I won’t to be sure we’ve answered everything we should. There were a few questions which didn’t seem to apply and I don’t want anything to hold up Christine’s acceptance.”

The receptionist sighed, but complied. “Sure, I’ll check it.”

She went over the four pages of information.

“I think you did everything right. I’ll make sure that Mrs. McWilliams gets it when she returns from lunch.”

“I appreciate that very much.”

“You’re very welcome.”


That evening at the Singletarys, Ray arrived with a big smile on his face. When he found Leigh in the kitchen starting their dinner he grabbed her and swung her around in a circle.

“Ray! What’s that all about?”

“Well, you look so great with that buzz cut I can’t resist picking you up. As far as I’m concerned, you the most wonderful woman in the world. I do have a little bit of news though,” he teased.

“Tell me! It must be exciting for you to act like that!”

“OK. It’s pretty simple. I told you that my supervisor had been offered a job in another company. He will be leaving in four weeks and I’ve been offered his job. I will be getting some training, but I already know the job quite well, so that should be easy. Anyway, I accepted, and they will increase my salary starting Monday. When I take over completely in a month I will get another increase. I’ll get a review in six months. I think we’ll be able to do a few of the things around here that I promised you, especially if you’re willing to keep working for a few more years.”

“Oh, Ray, that’s such great news. I’m so happy for you. You’re so capable and now you can do what you should have been doing all along. Of course I’ll keep working. I’ve been enjoying it. I think I’ll be able to find a more challenging job too. And Beth and Brian are very responsible and so willing to help.”

She gave him a big hug and kiss.

“I love you Leigh. I felt like such a loser when you had to get a job just to help us make ends meet. I never want that to happen again. If you want to work for your own satisfaction, I’m OK with that. You deserve every bit of happiness that you can find.”

“Ray, you’re a wonderful husband and terrific father. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. It could have happened to anyone. We got through it and maybe the kids learned a few life lessons in the process. We’re going to be just fine.”

“You certainly held up your end Leigh.” He held her again, then rubbed her head.

“Hum. That doesn’t feel quite as bristly as it did. When do you get it cut again?”

“What kind of an incentive is that?” she laughed. “It’s only been a week and a half. Come on and help me with dinner. You can make the big announcement to Brian and Beth after dinner.”

Friday – The Big Meet with Wasena

“Do you feel a little scared Christine? We been talking about this meet all week. It’s making me nervous, Melissa said.

“I know how you feel Melissa. I’m not sure I can even eat breakfast. I know I need to calm down, but it’s hard to do. If I worked up a sweat I could do it. Tommy know how to do it really well. He’s been trying to teach me, but I don’t seem to be able to make it work very well. Come on, let’s go in your room and we can try together.”

The went into Melissa’s room and Christine sat down on the floor with her legs crossed in the traditional yoga fashion.

“It’s just yoga, and they use it to get calm and ‘centered.’ I’m not sure what that means. We sit like this and put our hands like this, then breath slowly like this and try to make our minds a blank.”

That sat for five minutes breathing slowly. Melissa finally spoke, but very softly. “I think it works Christine.”

Christine didn’t move for a few more minutes. Then she responded. “I feel more relaxed too. It must have been because I’m not concentrating on Tommy. He’s so patient. He never gets exasperated with me when I don’t get what it is that I’m supposed to be doing. Come on I think I can eat breakfast now.”

“He must have learned a lot of things at his Judo classes,” Melissa commented.

“He has, but I think its the other class, Taekwondo, that he takes where they emphasize being calm and composed. He’s already a fifth rank black belt. He earned fourth rank more than a year ago when he was only thirteen. He told me he had to be fifteen before he could earn promotion to fifth rank. If I had time I would start taking lessons too,” Christine said, clearly eager to tell Melissa about Tommy.

They headed toward the kitchen where they were greeted by Paula. “Hello girls. You have a big day today don’t you?”

“You’re right Mom. We’re both a little nervous. I wish I could be as calm as Tommy,” Christine responded. “You’re still coming aren’t you?”

“Oh, absolutely! I wouldn’t miss it. I have a few things to do here, but I’ll be there, that’s for sure. I’m sure you’ll get calmed down soon. You told me that Tommy taught you some breathing techniques to help you with it.”

“We tried it a little while ago and it worked for me I think,” Melissa answered. “I’ll be playing pretty early, so I don’t have as much time to be nervous as Christine does.”

“I’ll be OK. I think I’m getting the idea of how to get relaxed so I can concentrate on my technique,” Christine added.

She quickly poured orange juice into two glasses and set then out. Melissa arranged small plates, bowls, napkins and spoons for them. Christine sat out several boxes of dry cereal and a bottle of the soy ‘milk’ that she and Melissa had begun using instead of regular milk. There were strawberries in the fridge and Christine retrieved them. In a few she had sliced enough for Melissa and herself. The activity and thinking about something else had helped, but she knew that she would have the jitters in the afternoon when the swimming competition began. Tommy would be competin
g and wouldn’t be there to help keep her calm.

Paula had already eaten and had finished her coffee. She got up to go to her little office. “I guess you’ll want to be with your teams. I’ll head straight over to Wasena in half an hour. I’ll be there before anything gets started. Good luck. I know you’ll do well, but let me give you both hugs and a kiss for good luck.”

Melissa jumped up and wrapped her arms around Paula who put one arm around her and held her head with the other. After a moment she kissed Melissa on the top of her head. “you’re going to do just great. No matter what the score ends up I’m very proud of you and the dedication that you have shown. But you better wash that lipstick off you head before you leave,” she laughed.

“Come here Christine,” Paula said as she spread out her arms. Christine was nearly as tall as Paula at five feet six inches. They hugged cheek to cheek as Paula fondled her head with one hand. “You’re a champion in my eyes. And you’re going to be a champion in everyone’s eyes before you’re finished.” She kissed her on the check.

“Thanks Mom. I think you’re a champ too, even if you do have a ‘thing’ about bald women,” Christine laughed, her jitters momentarily forgotten.

“I’ll be there to cheer,” Paula said as she left to go to her little office.

They ate breakfast in uncharacteristic silence. Finally Christine spoke. ?”I guess we had better clean up and get ourselves shaved.”

“Yeah. We need to get moving.”

Thirty minutes later, having shaved each other smooth as silk, they stopped in Paula’s office to say goodbye.

“Mom, we’re leaving. The volleyball competition will start at ten thirty.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be there. Just look for me wherever Leigh and Heather are sitting.

They rode their bikes to the rec center where Melissa would change into her volleyball outfit which consisted of a pair of short-shorts and a tank top. She had taken her soccer shorts and tee shirt with her and would change after the volleyball game. Christine had her special swim suit rolled up in a very small bundle which she carried in a small gym bag along with her lipstick and the shiner makeup for her head. It fit easily in her saddle bag.

The thirty odd girl and boy competitors were very quiet. The tension was palpable. There was a little quiet chatter among the volleyball and soccer teams, but the girls swimming team was almost mute. Gail, the most vocal of them tried to stir up some conversation with limited success.

They piled into the vans that had been recruited. Heather and Leigh along with the vans provided by Jessie’s Mom and another Mom from the volleyball team carried most of the kids. Two station wagons took the remainder and the various coaches and three assistants.

The volleyball teams changed into their game outfits and court shoes. They were still quite subdued. Their young coach, a tall college senior who had been given an honorable mention on the college all star team, called them together at one end of the gym.

“OK, kids. I know you’re nervous, but let’s do our stretching exercises and some warm up exercises. Let’s start with the yoga positions just to get ourselves relaxed.”

“Good idea. Christine did some this morning and it helped. Come on guys let’s do it together. Maybe coach can lead us,” Melissa immediately took up the idea.

Five minutes of getting “centered” and the girls were ready to start the stretching exercises that were an important part of their routine. That was followed by a little jogging in place. They were ready, even though they were still a little nervous, but now they could give each other high fives and were going through a little routine copied from basketball as they ran in a figure eight pattern.

The swim team and the rest of the soccer team were sitting in the bleachers doing a little warmup cheering.

Heather and Leigh along with a few other Mom’s and a couple of Dad’s sat behind them.

The public address system came to life. The names of the teams were announced along with the names of the two game officials.

The team captains had gone to the middle of the court for the coin toss. As the visiting team, the Crown Point Bulldogs called it. Wasena won and would receive.

Melissa and Beth sat on the bench, or rather they stood expectantly waiting for the serve. She took a quick look at the bleachers and saw that her Mom and Cindi’s Mom had arrived and were sitting with Penny’s and Beth’s Moms. There was a little release of tension for her.

Christine and the swim team watched in eager anticipation. The serve came and was easily put in play to the Dolphin’s setter who set it up for their best hitter. She went up for the shot, but Audra had soared high with her and blocked it. The ball came down between two Dolphin players. It was an auspicious beginning. The Bulldog contingent cheered loudly.

The game see-sawed back and forth, with neither team being able to achieve dominance. The score was deuce once, twice, three times. Finally the Dolphins got a break. Ahead by a point and serving they forced the Bulldogs into misplaying a shot. The Bulldogs had to put a weak shot over the net. The Dolphins capitalized and sent a hard shot to the back of the court which the Bulldogs could not return.

During the short break between games, Heather turned to Leigh and Paula. “They’re going to have a hard time against Wasena. They’re playing amazingly well, but those Wasena kids are a lot taller than most of the Crown point kids. I think the Wasena kids have been playing longer too.”

“Do they have a chance of winning, Heather? They did stay with Wasena,” Leigh commented.

“Maybe, but they’ll have to play over their heads both games. I think Wasena will realize they have a real challenge and will make it very difficult. The first game sent a message that they had better take Crown Point seriously. I can see their coach really talking to them.”

“Even if they lose, they’ll still be winners in my estimation,” Paula responded. “Look at what they have achieved so far. I remember the newspaper writer at the beginning of summer saying that Crown Point would not be competitive with any of the other teams.”

“Of course you’re right Paula,” Heather agreed. “They’ve improved an amazing amount and I think Melissa inspired them to work harder than they ever imagined.”

The second game was similar. But this time the Bulldogs hung on for the win. Audra and Cindi played key roles in getting their shots down.

“I can hardly believe how well Cindi and Audra are able to compete with those big Wasena girls. They are really determined. And Penny is all over the place making saves,” Leigh observed.

The third game was a reprise of the first game. The Bulldogs were not quite able to overcome two mistakes, while the Dolphins played flawlessly. With the score tied at the end the Dolphins made two straight points to win. Melissa had played only a little as she had expected. They had to put their best team on the floor most of the time if they were to have a chance. She had had a few chances and made the most of them, putting up some nice sets, and saving a ball that was far out of bounds as she raced to get under it and hit it back over her head to get it to a teammate who put it back over the net.

“They really made a match of it. Paula. Melissa is a natural. She makes beautiful sets, but she is just too small to compete at the net with girls six inches taller than she is. They should make her a back line setter. Audra and Cindi are terrific considering how little they have played before. Let’s let them know how proud we are of them,” Heather encouraged them.

They had given the Wasena team all it could handle and might have won if they had played a tiny bit better. They were disappointed, but knew they had played well against a team that was expected to be far superior. As all the Crown Point kids and parents yelled, stamped and clapped for them, they turned
and waved. Melissa pumped her fist and the others followed. Even losing they had won. The Wasena team came over to congratulate them for having put up such a determined effort.

It was eleven thirty and the soccer match would begin at one. There was time for lunch. The soccer coach had told her team to have a light lunch – something easily and quickly digestible. They had hit upon small sandwiches made with low fat mayo, tomatoes, lettuce and veggie cheese slices. A small fat free fruit yogurt and Gatorade filled it out. Christine had made one for Tommy who had validated their choice.

“Well, that was silly of me. I watched Christine and Melissa make very carefully calculated lunches and I didn’t think to do anything for myself,” Paula admonished herself. “I guess I’ll have to get something unhealthy from one of the vending machines.”

“I think we will all have to. Cindi made something too. She said that they had all asked Melissa what she was fixing. I had to buy a low fat yogurt for her,” Michelle related.

“Same thing happened with Penny,” Heather agreed. “By the way, I think Hallie is coming this afternoon. She had a church meeting to attend this morning. Keep a lookout for her. She’ll want to be with us.”

“I guess we might as well see if there is anything actually edible in those machines. Apparently our girls don’t think there is since it appears they all got advice from Melissa and fixed their own,” Leigh said laughing.

They found some sandwiches and soft drinks in the vending machines and went to the rec center’s large meeting room where a few tables had been set up to accommodate the overflow. All the teams were staying together in the smaller activities rooms.

They finished their lunch and headed to the soccer field. Some bleachers had been set up on one side. The clamored up about half way to get a better view of the field.

The two teams were already warming up. A few were still stretching, but most were running quick sprints or running down field passing the ball to each other. An assistant coach was kicking the ball toward the goal while Audra blocked the shot or caught it.

“There, I see Cindi working with Melissa. You can’t miss that pair can you. One bald as an egg and the other with a long pony tail,” Michelle laughed. “I guess that’s not going to last much longer. I’m taking her to Kate’s shop tomorrow.”

“Really Michelle!” Heather asked astonished. “I thought she was determined to keep it long.”

“I thought so too, but she actually likes Audra’s super short haircut, and she likes Beth’s shaved head even more. The Amigas have all told her not to get it cut, but she really wants it cut and is quite eager to do it. She asked James and he was completely OK with it. I think Steffie, and you Heather, changed his mind once and for all about short hair on women. Anyway, I’m probably going to get mine cut too. The more I think about it the more I want to do it.” Michelle told them.

“Michelle, your hair is beautiful. Are you sure you want to do it? I hope it’s not just because we have all gone short,” Heather responded.

“No, it’s really not Heather. I still like long hair, but I’m actually looking forward to getting it cut short. It feels like exactly what I want to do. Maybe someday I’ll let it get long again, but probably not. When James said he thought I would look really good with it short it fell like I suddenly discovered that I could do something I had always wanted to do, but which I though I shouldn’t do. It was strange,” Michelle confessed.

“I know what you mean Michelle,” Paula said. “The same thing happened to me although for a different reason. When I had Christine and Melissa shaved, I suddenly realized why I did it. It was really me that I wanted to get shaved, but I thought I couldn’t, so I had my girls shaved instead. That’s when I confessed what I had realized about myself to Christine and told her I was going to get my head shaved as soon as I felt secure in my new job and that I was going to get my long hair cut off very soon. I felt suddenly liberated.”

“It is a liberating feeling to know that you can be yourself and do what you like. It’s even better knowing that you have friends all around you who support you. I think the game is about to start,” Leigh agreed.

“And there’s Hallie, just in time,” Heather said as she stood up and waved her arms to get Hallie’s attention.

The game had started. There was no doubt about the determination of the Bulldogs. They were playing fiercely. The game had hardly gotten started when Penny stole the ball and got it to Cindy who started an all out charge down the field with Beth, and Gabby racing with her. It was a breakaway three on two. A pass to Beth who was crossing led to a hard shot on goal which the Dolphin goal tender stopped but could not control. Gabby had an easy put away.

The game flowed back and forth for the next seven or eight minutes with neither side being able to get off a good shot on goal. Both goalies made a couple of routine stops. On their next possession Melissa dribbled the ball down field, Cindi made a move followed by Beth who got behind the defender. Melissa passed the ball to her and raced toward the spot vacated by Cindi. Beth passed the ball back to Melissa who instantly passed to Cindi coming back across in front of the goal. Her kick into the goal was untouched.

The Crown Point contingent erupted in screaming and stamping. It was by far the best play of the day. The Dolphins finally scored a point. At the end of the half the score was two to one.

Leigh, who had played intramural soccer in collage and had a boyfriend who was on the college team, was impressed with Melissa’s play.

“Paula, for a thirteen year old, Melissa is an amazing playmaker. She seems to have an uncanny ability to find the right spot and to pass the ball to the right player,” she explained to Paula.

“I’ve never played soccer, so I don’t have a clue to what she is doing,” Paula admitted.

“I watched Brian play quite a bit, and I agree with Leigh. Melissa is really good and amazingly unselfish. I think good coaches will realize how exceptional she is. She makes all the other players look better,” Michelle agreed.

“Hallie, Audra is a great goal tender. She anticipates so well and can stretch out so far,” Leigh explained.

The second half started much like the first half. Once again the Dolphins underestimated Penny’s quickness and skill. She passed the ball to Melissa who was in full stride having anticipated that Penny would get the ball. Beth and Cindi were heading down the sides. A pass to Cindi who passed to Beth who passed back to Melissa who had gotten behind the defenders was the result. Melissa’s shot hit the goal post and went in. The three of them seemed to function as thought they could read each other’s mind. Ten minutes later the score was four to one when Beth, Melissa and Cindi collaborated on yet another beautiful play. With ten minutes to play the Dolphins made a determined effort and finally scored their second goal. Several exchanges later the Dolphins took out their goal tender for another offensive player. When Penny intercepted yet another pass and sent the ball to Cindi who took it down field with Beth beside her the game was all but over. Cindi passed the ball to Beth who put it in the open goal, making the final score five to two. Audra had played her usual outstanding game. Three times she had stopped what appeared to be sure goals by the Dolphins.

The Crown Point supporters cheered madly at the last two goals and when the game ended. The soccer team descended on Melissa, Cindi, Beth, Penny and Audra, all of whom had been key to their victory. They were buried by the other players.

“I think Wasena had no idea how much our team had improved. They should have seen what the Bulldogs did to Cloverdale. It was no contest. Beth kept telling me how hard they practiced and about Melissa’s determination to make them the b
est team. Even the older players got the message and began to participate in the extra practice sessions. Melissa and the Amigas really set the example for all the rest,” Leigh explained.

“You’re right Leigh. If it hadn’t been for all that extra practice and what they did when they started going in the gym, Cindi could never have kept up the pace like she did after playing almost three whole games of volleyball. Melissa was so determined to succeed that she fired up all the rest of them,” Michelle concurred.

“You know that Melissa was inspired a little by Christine who was inspired by Tommy,” Paula added. According to Melissa, Christine had worked harder than any of them. I sure hope it pays off in the swim meet.”

“I’m sure it will, Paula. Penny has mentioned how hard Christine and the other swim team members have worked to build up their strength and endurance. Apparently they spend almost two hour in the gym three times a week really working hard,” Heather related.

“Melissa told me that Christine is beginning to look a little like a body builder she has so much muscle definition,” Paula laughed.

“She’s right Paula. I saw her last week and she is `ripped’ as they say about body builders. She isn’t bulky, just all hard muscle. She looks incredibly good. You’ll see,” Michelle added.

They had reached the gym and indoor pool area. Again there were bleachers set up. This time there was something different. There was a reporter and cameraman from the local newspaper present. Somehow it had become known that the two best swimmers on the summer teams would be competing and that they were both bald. Their best times had already made them competitive with the best swimmers that Forest High had ever had. They were making news. The Forest High coach was present as well. He had heard from other coaches how good these two girls were and wanted to see for himself.

“Well they should be out there pretty soon. They’ll need to get loosened up in the pool. I’m pretty sure the fifty meter free will be the first race,” Heather said.

“Christine was nervous this morning. I hope she has gotten relaxed.” Paula said.

“Here they come. There’s Christine. And there’s Tess on the other side,” Leigh observed.

“Christine looks nervous.” Paula said.

The girls were in the pool swimming a couple of slow laps. The lanes had already been decided. The fifty meter freestyle race was announced along with the lane assignments. Each team had three contestants, but in both cases the third swimmer was one of the junior members and was being given a chance to compete.

They all lined up behind the starting positions. Christine paced back and forth, clearly very up tight.

“You’re right Paula. I’ve never seen Christine like that before,” Heather observed.

The official starter called “set,” but before the gun sounded Christine had launched herself into the water followed by all the other swimmers. She had made a false start.

Paula and the others were suddenly as tense as Christine. The swimmers lined up again. The gun sounded and Christine was the last swimmer to hit the water. She had been so afraid of a second false start that she was now a half body length behind Tess and Janet.

“Oh my goodness.” Heather exclaimed.

They watch in shock as the three girls made the turn at twenty five meters. Janet led by a head over Tess with Christine in third. She was making up ground but not enough. Five meters from the finish it seem she might overtake Tess, but not Janet. She finished third by a hundredth of a second. Janet won by a small, but significant margin. Bridget had battled the Dolphins number two freestyle swimmer for fourth place and missed only because she got out touched by the other swimmer.

When the times were announced, Christine’s time was less than her best by almost half a second. Tess and Christine congratulated Janet. Christine gave Janet a brief high five then fled back to the locker room, obviously very upset.

They saw Tommy slip away and go back to the locker area.

“Oh my, Christine must be feeling really bad. I think she was in tears,” Michelle said. “I hope she can come out of it. She was so nervous she couldn’t be herself.”

Back at the entrance to the locker room an assistant coach was trying to help Christine pull herself together when Tommy showed up.

“Christine,” he said quietly.

She looked up. “Tommy, I let the team down. I really messed up didn’t I?” She said as she burst into tears again her composure shaken.

Tommy waited patiently until Christine was able to control her sobs. “Maybe you put too much pressure on yourself,” Tommy told her. “I don’t know about messing up or letting the team down. Maybe you sort of lost perspective.”

“What do you mean?” Christine asked.

“Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves that we are sure to do less than our best. You got a third place. That’s not failure, just not as good as you know you can do. How about letting us help you get ready for your next race. You know what you can do. It’s just a mattered of letting go of everything except the sound of the gun and the feel of your self swimming,” he told her. “If you do that it’s sure to result in you doing your best. Here’s a towel. Dry off a little and let’s do some breathing and meditation exercises.”

“OK, I’ll try,” Christine told him.

The three of them sat on the floor on some towels. The assistant coach sensed that Tommy would be able to accomplish much more than she would and kept quiet as Tommy gave soft instructions on breathing. She followed along. She had taken yoga classes a few years earlier and remembered some of it. In a few moments she had allowed herself to drift into that calm state that she remembered. She hoped that Christine had been able to do the same.

In the stands Paula was feeling panicky worrying about Christine and wondering if she would be able to complete the rest of her races. She almost missed the start of the next race.

“It’s Gail and Jessie in the breaststroke. They’ve been working so hard. I hope they do well. Gail got third the last time they competed against Wasena,” Heather told them.

When they hit the water Gail and Jessie were neck and neck and in the lead by a head. The race stayed that way as they made their turn, but now Gail had gained slightly on Jessie and extended her lead over the last fifteen meters. Ellen their third swimmer was holding her own in fourth place. At the end of the race Gail and Jessie were triumphant. Gail had achieved her personal best and Jessie had equaled her best. There were fist pumps from Gail and Jessie and highfives for Ellen.

The next race was the fifty meter backstroke although it had not yet been announced. The swim team waited nervously for Christine to reappear. The kids and Moms in the bleachers were holding their breath. Just as they announced the backstroke as the next race Christine stepped though the door. Tommy was beside and a little behind her. The assistant coach went quickly over to the coach and spoke briefly. There was the announcement of the race and the lane assignments.

Christine went to her lane without looking to either side. She stood quietly looking straight ahead. She shook her arms and shoulders to loosen them. When she heard the starter say “on your mark” she turned and got into position . At the sound of “Set” she dropped down into the squat position that allowed her to achieve the powerful backward launch that she had developed with Tommy’s help in the gym. When the gun went off Christine felt herself explode backwards and arch toward the water. It seemed to her she was in the air a long time. Her arms began to move before her feet touched the water. Time slowed down for her as she began propelling herself with fast hard strokes.

“Oh my God, Paula, look at Christine. She’s going like crazy,” Heather yelled.

They all started yelling as loud as they could. Christine hit the wall,
spun and rocketed off it. She was half a body length ahead and gaining. Jessie and Tess were now fighting for second place. Christine hit the wall and looked around. She seemed unaware of her surroundings. The yelling and cheering continued. Finally Jessie swam over to her.

“Christine, you won. You were fantastic. You’ve never had a time like that before.”

“What?”

“You won Christine. You beat everybody by a lot. Come on. What’s going on with you?” she asked perplexed.

Christine took a deep breath and looked around. “Oh, Jessie how did we do? Did we win?”

“Wow, you’ve really been out of it haven’t you. You’ve never had a race like that before Christine. Look at your time. It’s fantastic. I almost came in second and Dana was fourth,” Jessie told her.

Christine had beaten her previous best by a quarter of a second. Finally the realization sunk in that she had overcome her anxiety and actually had won the race by a margin that was unexpected. She smiled and gave Jessie a high five and pumped her fist. She climbed out of the pool and went over to congratulate Dana.

Their coach came up and embraced her. “Christine that was an amazing swim. I guess you’re over your nerves,” she said.

“I think so. Tommy helped me get my head straight. I could have won the first race if I hadn’t lost my concentration. I don’t think I’ll have that kind of problem again.”

“You’ll do just fine Christine. Just do your thing and don’t think about anything else.” she advised.

“Paula, did you hear that. Christine swam the race of her life. That was an amazing comeback considering how upset she was,” Heather recognized how unlikely it was that anyone would improve their time in a race that much.

“I think Tommy had something to do with getting her calmed down. He came back in with her after she left,” Paula said.

“I suspect you’re right Paula. She seemed very composed and focused when she returned,” Leigh added. “I think she got something figured out. I’ll bet she does great in her next two races too.”

The next race, the butterfly would be critical. Janet was expected to win, but no-one except the Bulldogs knew just how much Gail had improved. Gail had begun to make a race of it in practices with Janet. They had pushed each other as had all the members of the team.

Once again the rigorous workouts that Tommy had devised would play a crucial role in the start of the race. Both Janet and Gail had powerful push offs.

Janet and Gail were together for the first fifteen meters and ahead of the field. Janet took a slight lead at the turn and headed for home closely pursued by Gail. They came in first and second easily besting the Wasena swimmers. Sharon had made an excellent showing coming in fifth. It was only her second competition race in the event.

The Bulldogs were now confident that they were going to win the meet. They were sure that their conditioning would allow them to win the longer races.

The next race was the hundred freestyle. Christine and Janet were side by side in the middle lanes. Christine displayed the same concentrated focus that had characterized her fifty meter backstroke race. Just before going to their lanes she and Janet had exchanged highfives.

It got quiet. The gun sounded and they were off. Christine took a small lead. Janet and Tess seemed to be even. Christine extended her lead at the first turn. Janet and Tess stayed together. The second turn saw Christine extend her lead a bit more. Now the superior training of the Bulldogs began to tell. Janet pulled ahead of Tess. Christine continued to extend her lead and Bridget began to creep up on Tess. Tess finished in third, half a body length behind Janet and only half a body length ahead of Bridget. Christine was well ahead and had bettered her best time by a small margin.

It was a triumph for the Bulldogs. The remainder of the match was a foregone conclusion. The Bulldogs were clearly superior in the longer races. They took first and second in each of the last three races. Christine had another personal best in the back stroke as did Jessie. Gail and Janet equaled their best times in their events.

The reporter and photographer got the Bulldogs together for a group picture and then interviewed Christine and Janet.

“Christine, you didn’t do as well in your first race as you did in the later ones. What happened.”

“I had a really bad case of nerves. Once I got over it I did OK. I was pretty upset after the first race.” Christine confessed.

“Do you think that will happen to you again?”

“I hope not. I don’t think it will. My boyfriend Tommy helped me get through it and figure out what was happening. I had just gotten too up tight about the match and it messed me up. You need to talk to Janet. She really did a great job for us winning that race. Even if one of us messes up, there’s somebody to take over and do the job,” Christine answered.

“Your team did surprise everyone and I’ll talk to Janet about that. But first, you beat Tess Quinalt in the backstroke, her specialty. Do you two have a serious rivalry?”

“Not really”. Christine responded “We’re good friends. Bald girls have to stick together you know,” Christine laughed. “Our team was just motivated to do well and spent a lot of time practicing and working out in the gym. That’s what made the difference.”

“I’ll want to come back to that in a minute. Janet, did you think you and the others would be able to beat the Dolphins the way you did?”

“I thought we had a chance. I knew that we had worked really hard, and that we had improved a lot. Our practice times were better than the times of the Dolphins, but that doesn’t mean much in a real meet. We just had to prove it,” Janet answered.

“You certainly proved it. I’ll want to know more about working out, but you all have shaved or almost shaved heads. How did that happen, and did it have anything to with how well you did?”

“Well, when Christine joined the team she was already bald. Jessie, who has been friends with Christine for a long time liked it and supported her. When she did so well in our first meet with the Dolphins, we began to pay attention to what she was doing. I guess we all got used to seeing her bald and working harder than any of us. It didn’t seem strange any more. Jessie got a short haircut first and then Gail got one. I had wanted to get one too. When I saw Beth’s – she’s on the soccer and volleyball teams – I liked it so much that I wanted to get one just like it. So we all decided to go at the same time and we all got these haircuts on Monday. Afterwards we realized that we liked the idea of sticking together as a team and our haircuts was sort of a symbol of our team spirit. I think it’s pretty cool for us to have these haircuts,” Janet told her.

“It certainly makes you distinctive. Do you think you’ll keep them?”

“We’re all pretty determined. I think we’ll keep them as long as we’re on the same team,” Janet answered.

“What about you Christine. Are you planning to stay shaved?”

“I like being bald. It gives me more freedom. Maybe someday I’ll let it grow, but I don’t know when. I’m sorry, but I want to go over to see Tess and then watch the men’s team,” Christine told her.

“I’d like to have a chance to talk to you both,” the reporter said.

“OK.” Christine hurried to the locker room where Tess was sitting down still stunned at the performance of the Bulldogs.

“Tess,” Christine spoke to her. “You’re still the best you know.”

“Oh, hi Christine. You guys blew us away. You should have won the fifty free. I wasn’t even close once you got calmed down,” Tess responded a little chagrined.

“I think the Bulldogs just needed to prove themselves. Nobody took us seriously. So we worked extra hard to get better. You can do the same. Anyway that’s not what I wanted to tell you. I’m going to be able to go to Forest High for ninth grade. Mom got the approval Wedne
sday and put in the application yesterday.”

“That’s great Christine. You’ll be the number one swimmer for sure if you keep it up,” Tess said without much enthusiasm, still smarting over the defeat that she and her team had endured.

“I don’t know about that Tess. Our coach said you were a natural. All you need to do is workout the way we did. You’ll still be number one. It will be great to be on the same team with you Tess. I think we’ll be the very best bald swimming team in the state,” Christine laughed. “Maybe we could go to the state finals.”

Tess couldn’t help but laugh at Christine’s remark. “I think I’ll like being on a swimming team with you Christine. I need to find out what you guys did to get so much better so fast.”

“Thanks, Tess. Its not much of a secret. We just did a lot of working out in the gym as well as in the pool. Beth told me you and Brian were going out. He’s a really nice guy. I hope you have fun. I have to get back. I want to see how Tommy does. I’ll talk to you late.”

“Can you wait a minute or two, so I can get a picture of the two of you,” the reporter asked.

“If it’s OK with Tess, it’s OK with me,” Christine said.

“It’s OK with me. Even though we lost, we’re all going to be on the same team.”

Tess, who was naturally good-natured and easy going put her arm around Christine’s shoulder for the picture. Christine laughed and put her arm around Tess’s waist.

The reporter began to interview Tess as Christine rushed back to the other end of the pool to cheer for Tommy.

Tommy had improved rapidly. Although he had competed in other meets as the number three swimmer, this was the first meet in which his coach though he had a chance of coming in second.

Christine had slipped around to the back of the starting end where she stood off to the side. She observed how he loosened his arms and shoulders, but otherwise seemed completely oblivious to his surroundings. He was competing in the hundred meter freestyle, the event where his strength and stamina would make a difference.

At the gun his launch was flat and he hit the water beyond where the other swimmers hit even though it was like a belly flop. Christine almost laughed, but he was staying with the better swimmers. His technique was not as smooth as it should be, although his power was impressive. He lost a little at the turn where he was still a little awkward. Christine saw that he was now in second place by a hand span. He lost ground on his second turn, but regained it on the third leg. They were together after the third turn and heading to the finish. Tommy seemed to surge, pulling ahead and actually closing the gap between him and the boy in first place whose pace had slackened.

Christine was yelling her head off as he hit the wall. When the times flashed on the screen, she cheered even louder. He had beaten his best time by a significant margin.

Christine ran to pool side and gave him a high five. “You were amazing Tommy. You’re going to be a really good swimmer. Look at your time!”

He grinned at her. “Nothing like you Christine, but I’m getting better.” He climbed out of the pool and went over to the rest of the team where he received congratulatory high fives.

They sat side by side, cheering on the team and congratulating every good showing, for the remainder of the competition. The Dolphin boys had two exceptional swimmers who swam two events each at both distances. They were first in all eight races. Tommy had gotten closer to first place than any of the other second place finishers. His performance was noted by the Forest High swimming coach.

Christine told Tommy where to meet her and went quickly back to the locker room to get out of her swim suit. She knew the others would already be there.

“Christine, you were fantastic. You got us all going” Janet exclaimed.

“Thanks, Janet, but really you guys did even better than I did. None of you had a panic attack like I did,” she confessed.

“Is that what happened? But you came back and blew everybody away. How did you do that?” Jessie asked.

“Tommy helped me get my head cleared up. We did some yoga exercises and I finally got ‘centered’ as he calls it. I think I know what I have to do now. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you what a great bunch you are and how much I like being on the team with you all,” Christine indicated the four thirteen and fourteen year old girls who were on the team and who had all competed for the first time.

She took a quick shower and dressed. “Are we still on at your house tomorrow Jessie?”

“Absolutely. I’ve scheduled you to help me make the pizzas,” she teased. “We’ll all be there, so don’t be late or we may all starve to death.”

“I’ll be there by one. See you guys tomorrow.” Christine hurried out to find Tommy and her family.

She met Tommy and took his hand as they walked out to the entry hall of the rec center where several groups had congregated waiting for some of the competitors to show up. Heather and another van were still there waiting for the remainder of the kids to change so they could could take them back to Crown Hill. Paula had remained.

“Melissa, Penny. You guys were sensational. I’ve never seen you play like that,” Christine told them.

Melissa grinned broadly. “We played better than we’ve ever done before. Did you see the way Beth and Cindi made plays?”

“I sure did. You all played like that,” Christine responded.

“Well, you and Tommy deserve some congratulations too for what you accomplished. You were outstanding,” Paula told her.

“Thanks Mom, but I would have been a bust if Tommy hadn’t helped me get through my panic attack,” Christine acknowledged.

“It wasn’t a big deal Mrs. Jenner. Christine had just put too much pressure on herself. Once she realized that all she had to do was swim the way she knew she could and didn’t have to think about anything else, she was fine,” Tommy explained.

“I think maybe you were able to help her in a way that not many people could have,” Paula responded. “I’ve had panic attacks a couple of times in my life and I know how difficult it is to block out everything and do what you need to do.”

“That’s it Mom. When I ‘centered’ the only thing I could hear was the starter’s voice and the starting gun. I could see the end of the pool and was aware of my body doing what it was supposed to do, but everything else was blanked out. At the end of the race Jessie had to wake me up,” Christine agreed.

“Come on kids. I’ll take you all over to Crown Point so you can get your bikes,” Paula offered.

“OK. Hey, Penny I’ll see you at Cindi’s tomorrow afternoon,” Melissa yelled enthusiastically.

Paula had told Heather who she was taking. They got into the car and were at Crown Point in fifteen minutes. She left then there and headed to Kate’s shop where she had a six thirty appointment to have Kate touch up her hair and be photographed as a model for Kate’s scrape-book. It was already six twenty and she was going to be a few minutes late unless she found a parking place very close to the shop.

“Melissa wait a couple of minutes and I’ll go with you,” Christine said.

“OK, I’ll be over at the picnic table.”

“Tommy, if you hadn’t been their to help me get straightened out I would have been a complete wreck,” Christine told him.

“The same think happened to me a year ago. I was so keyed up that I couldn’t do anything right during my level four test. It took me a month to get back on track and really learn how to get myself relaxed and focused. You did it a lot quicker. I think doing it comes easier for girls and women than guys, although they seem to be more prone to need to do it than guys,” he laughed.

“I don’t know much about it, but I do know I need to practice it more so it becomes automatic. You’ve been trying to teach me for a while and I just couldn’t get it. Now I do,” she told him.

“you’re going to be fine. You were fine, more
than fine – stupendous. I forgot to ask you. Would you like to go to a movie on Sunday evening. I don’t know what’s playing.”

“Of course I would. If there’s nothing playing worth seeing we can just hang out for a couple of hours. I’ll check the movies.”

“OK. I’ll be there about six O’clock.”

“Thanks for being there for me today,” Christine said.

“Thanks for letting me be there.” Tommy responded.

She held him tightly while they kissed. They quickly broke apart and Christine took a deep breath.

“Bye Tommy.”

“Bye.”

To be continued in Part 16

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