Tims Turn

by Andy Piercy

Only three boys to go and it would be Tim's turn. As usual Tim was at the back of the queue. "Patience is a virtue" his Mum said "No harm in being patient and waiting your turn", she added as she paid for his go.

Tim knew all about patience, if waiting for things was a virtue Tim would be the best there was at being virtuous. His Mum had tried to explain what virtuous meant when they were waiting at the hospital to see Tim's consultant. She had said people who did good things were virtuous. Tim accepted what his Mum said, as always, but Tim thought that his ability to wait had little in common with a Nurse. Then when Tim asked the nurse if she was virtuous she had laughed and said not on Saturday. Tim asked his Mum if you could have a day off from being virtuous and his Mum said everybody had an off day now and again.

Before they had set off for the Village Fete Tim had asked his Mum if he could have a go at things this year not just look. "That depends" his Mum had replied just as she applied her customary bright red lipstick. "Deep ends, what deep ends are they Mum" asked Tim as he pulled on his fingerless gloves. "You will be able to go at twenty miles an hour with those' the good Mr Todd had said when he tossed the gloves to Tim as he sat in the garden one morning.

"Not deep ends, silly, I said depends, it depends on what there is to go on. You had a go at the tombola, stick the tail on the donkey and the like last year didn't you" Tim's Mum said as she did what Tim thought was a good impression of Gromit as she wiped lipstick off her teeth.

"I want to have a go at the coconut shy, roll for a pig and throw the ball, that sort of thing" Tim pleaded, "just like the other kids". "But your not like the other kids" his Mum had retorted "My bottom half isn't Mum, but my top half is" Tim blurted out as tears welled up in his eyes. His Mum stood with her red rimmed mouth open but with no sound coming. Tim waited for the usual excuses that he wasn't strong enough, he could hurt himself and the best of all, people might laugh at him. But there was silence for what seemed ages then his Mum said "I blame that Mr Good for doing this, ever since he started wheeling you about you've changed"

"Its not just Mr Good Mum, its me, I want to do normal things and just because I can't walk doesn't mean I can't have a go"

"But you never bothered before"

"I am ten Mum and I may have the body of a weak and feeble boy but I have the heart and stomach of a normal kid and want to do normal things, not be cosseted in cotton wool"

"You don't have to quote Elizabeth One or Mr Good, I get the message". His Mum fell once again into unusual silence and Tim wondered just how long his Mum, who was never short of words, could go before some quote or saying would ensure that not only would he not "get a go' but he would be bound up in silence until they arrived at the fete.

"You shall go to the ball but if that wheelchair turns into a pumpkin and you go backside over elbow don't blame me"

It was Tim's turn to sit open mouthed. He then smiled not just at his Mums choice of words but at the proud look on her face as he pulled her down with his fingerless gloved hand and kissed her right next to her bright red lips.

Tim had bowled for a pig, although if you did get the best score you didn't get a real pig just a voucher to use at the local butchers. His score was good but Sandra, who was eleven, was better than the boys at bowling in French cricket and she had a really good score. Tim didn't mind and in fact hoped she would win the kids prize because she had declared that if she won she would kiss all the boys. Most of the boys had pulled a face and said "yuck no thanks" but Tim said nothing. He thought Sandra was lovely and a kiss would be heaven.

"Soon be your turn then Tim"

Tim looked over his shoulder to see Mr Good, the nice Mr Good. "Hope you remember what to do" whispered Mr Good.

Tim put his thumb up saying "yes' without the word being spoken.

Throwing the ball had been changed since last year following an accident when the Vicar had been smacked on the back of the head by a misdirected tennis ball. Some people thought that Tommy Trewble, who was called Tommy trouble most of the time, had done it on purpose. Tommy said he hadn't but he was not that convincing.

"What did that Mr Good have to say, I hope he has not been filling your head with that Olympic ideal nonsense" Tim's Mum had bent over Tim and was whispering in his ear.

"No Mum this is a Village Fete, just because he told me once that people in wheelchairs do Olympic sports doesn't mean he always going on about it"

Tim knew he had told his Mum a white lie, Mr Good had often spoken of the Paralympics and that if Tim became good at a sport he might one day take part.

"It's the taking part that counts, not the winning". His Mum uttered another of her sayings that Tim mentally added to the long list that she injected into everyday life. Tim smiled as his Mum had only just let him "take part' now she was saying he should be prepared to lose.

Tim waited his turn and ignored his Mum who persisted in standing guard over him although he would blow away in the wind. While he waited he watched. Tim was a good watcher, this came from always having to watch other children doing things that he couldn't manage. He had learned patience as Mr Good had told him his time would come. He thought that slightly an odd saying but then his Mum had said lots of odd sayings. The ball throwing was now being done using a piece of springy plastic with a handle shape at one end and a cup shape on the other end. Tim had seen people in the park throw balls for dogs using the same sort of thing. It was held upright swung back and then when pulled forward launched the tennis ball. Everyone was shown how to do it so that the ball went the right way and they were using the football pitch away from the Vicars White Elephant stall. His stall was like the "bowling for a pig' as nobody ever came away with a white elephant.

Tim watched all the others have their turn and noticed that they all tried to launch the ball forward and it didn't go very high. Tim thought back to the ball being thrown for the dogs and that one man in particular sent the ball along way and his dog went hell for leather after it. When Tim had told Mr Good about this he had said it was all timing and the man had let the ball go at the top of the arc. Tim had nodded when Mr Good explained it to him but hadn't really grasped what he meant until now. It wasn't force that sent the ball a long way but a smooth flow of the arm and letting the ball go out of the cup at the top of the swing.

"Your turn Tim"

It was the voice Tim did not want to hear, it was the not so nice Mr Good.

"Going to show everybody how it's done then"

Tim's Mum said he was a shady devil and she wouldn't trust him as far as she could throw him, she called him Mr Bad.

Tim wheeled himself to the line where the balls were launched from and Miss Perry who worked at the kennels showed Tim how to use the thrower. That's what Tommy Trouble had called it when he had his go but he had said it was useless as even Sandra had sent it further than him.

You had three goes for your fifty pence, "cheap at half the price' Mr Bad called it.

Tim's first effort soared high but didn't go very far forward. His second was much better as it clicked in Tim's mind just how the man with the dog had sent it so far. Tim laughed to himself as he remembered the dog skidding on to his side as he tried to stop for the ball.

"You can laugh all you like" growled Mr Bad, "you're nowhere near the best mark and strikes me you should have saved yourself fifty pence"

Tim looked round to see Mr Good about to stride forward towards Mr Bad but his sleeve was held by Tim's Mum who said something to Mr Good that Tim could not hear and they both settled to watch intently as Tim held the launcher for his last go.

Tim made sure the break was on the wheelchair and as he did so he saw that the commotion caused by Mr Bad had resulted in a large crowd gathering at the football pitch. Tommy Trouble started it, perhaps as a joke but soon everybody was chanting Timmy""",Timmy""..,Timmy""..

Tim pictured the man with the dog and pulled the launcher back over his shoulder as the roar from the side increased. He then started his arm going forward with the launcher following it and as he felt his arm brush his ear he flicked his wrist and stopped his arm. The ball soared into the air and seemed to be carried on the wind created by the chanting crowd. Tim watched the ball getting nearer and nearer to the mark of the longest throw when all of a sudden a helicopter hovered over the field. Everyone fell silent and in the squall created by the helicopter Tim's final ball also fell just a few feet short of the longest mark.

"He'll have to have another go" said someone from the crowd.

"Oh no he won't" said Mr Bad.

"Oh yes he will", shouted the crowd.

By this time both Tim's Mum and Mr Good were at Tim's side. "You'll get another go", said Mr Good. Tim turned to see Mr Good and Tim's mum holding hands, Tim smiled. "No thanks" said Tim, "if I have another go and its useless I will feel a right plonker, I am happy with the go I had"

At the end of the field the helicopter had landed and Mr Bad was advancing towards the woman getting out but before he could get there Sandra had rushed forward. "Its my Auntie, Simone Standing", she yelled. I asked her to come but I didn't think she would.

"She is that famous film star", said someone from the crowd and they all swept past Tim on their way to the bottom of the field.

"There Tim, your time in the spotlight was soon over", said Mr Good.

With that the crowd started to part and Tim could see Sandra pulling the famous Simone by the hand towards him, his Mum and Mr Good.

"I told her what her helicopter had done to your throw Tim" said Sandra in an indignant voice. Tim looked up and Simone looked down. She then knelt down beside him and pushed something in his hand. Tim slightly opened his hand to see a piece of paper and he closed his hand again. Simone, the famous film star, then whispered in Tim's ear and kissed him on the top of his head before making her way towards the Village Hall and the converging crowd. When Tim looked up Sandra was still standing there. "I think you're brilliant Tim, you can play French Cricket any time", and with those words she kissed Tim on both cheeks, "just like they do in France" she yelled as she skipped after her Auntie.

Tim still had a grin from ear to ear at the prize giving in the hall as Simone handed him the second prize for the ball throwing, it was a day at the Kennels donated by Miss Perry. Later Mr Good told Tim's mum that there was only one prize for each event but Miss Perry thought Tim would be good at exercising the dogs for her.

After the helicopter had landed Tim's mum had been very quiet. A fact that hadn't gone un-noticed by Tim but he thought that may have been the appearance of Simone or the fact that Mr Good was never far from her side.

"What did she say to you Tim", asked his Mum.

"What did who say"

"You know full well who I mean and what did she push in your hand"

"Oh Simone you mean, well she gave me a note that says I can take three people with me to the premiere of her new film"

"My goodness, who are you going to take then"

"I thought, You, Mr Good and if she will come, Sandra"

"And what did she say"

"Oh, that's a secret"

"Now Tim, we do not have secrets from each other"

"You didn't tell me that you and Mr Good were friends"

"Until today I didn't realise we were, now what did she say"

"Simone, the film star, said to me, Tim the boy who came second that"

"Spit it out Tim, please"

"Simone said that it was okay to take part, it was okay to lose but Tim you will always be a winner"

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