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Blue - BRONZE WINNER

by Lara Akhurst, aged 11

Blue

Read by Rhiannon Neads from the BBC Radio Drama Company.

Heart thumping like a drum in her chest as she steps up to the blocks. Crowd cheering. Whistle. Gasp. Dive! The crowd erupts in a roar of applause as the eager swimmers plunge into the depths of the turquoise pool. Splash! She hits the water. Bubbles surround her as she slowly exhales. The chaos of the previous minutes starts to disperse in her mind, like the bubbles around her. Drifting. Drifting away…

…Splashing and kicking, she’s a gurgling baby in the bath. Dad looming over her, encouraging her to blow bubbles in the soapy water. Both laughing uncontrollably. Blinking and spluttering between her giggles as he pours the warm water over her head with a small plastic watering can. Colourful toys and cups surround her as she slaps the water excitedly with tiny hands. The image of the smiling faces of the father and daughter gradually fades away…

…A warm breeze blows in her face as she runs away frantically from the waves, hand in hand with her dad, both screeching with joy. As they walk along the sandy water’s edge collecting shells, their footprints are washed away by the sea. Soft sand tickling between her bare toes while the waves lap on the shore. Paddling in the shallow waters and licking chocolatey ice cream while seagulls squawk at one another, scavenging for their next snack, then disappearing high into the cloudy sky…

…”Ring a ring a roses, a pocket full of posies, atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down!” Memories of her first swimming lesson, kicking legs, blowing bubbles, orange armbands, mastering the mushroom float, the exhilaration of launching herself into the blue of the pool. Her dad looking on from the spectator’s gallery beaming with pride…

…She can hear herself breathing loudly through her mask and snorkel. The comforting heat of the sun on her back. Rainbow coloured fish wiggling away, crabs scuttling across the smooth sandy seabed, shells of all shapes and sizes are scattered across the ocean floor. The crystal clear waters ahead and below her are full of mystery. Not knowing what amazing creature or object she will see next, she glances towards Dad floating alongside her, sharing this fascinating experience. Beautiful sights, great memories…

She’s tiring now, each stroke a challenge. “One last push, you can do this!” urges a voice inside her head. As her fingertips touch the wall she comes up gasping for breath, she hears the deafening roar of the crowd. Cheering and shouting all around her, she finally comes to her senses to accept the fact that she has won! While the other competitors battle it out for second place, she looks up to where her mother is sitting, clapping and grinning with bittersweet tears streaming down her cheeks. Her eyes move to the empty seat next to Mum’s.

He’s not there.

He never will be again.

She looks into the pool and sees dad’s faint reflection in the sparkling water.
“I did it for you.” she whispers.

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