Where Do I Fit In?
by Andrew Foote
Throughout this story real organisations and real people are mentioned by name. Their place in the tale is in the author's imagination. No thoughts, words or deeds attributed to those people or organisations are real, nor have they ever happened. This is a story! It's fiction. The people and organisations, even when they interact with the characters, are presented in an entirely imagined and fictitious manner, and no discourtesy is intended to them by the author nor by the web site.
Poor Lucas! Oh God did I feel guilty!
He had completely wiped me out in the shower and all I wanted to do was hold him close and drift off to sleep with him in my arms but I knew he was needing my attention but the waves of sleep overtook me and the next thing I was aware of was looking at the clock indicating it was time for lunch.
He'd hardly moved all the time we'd been asleep, his powerful arms still clinging to me as if I was the most important person in the world but then I remembered his words.
'Don't ever go away, my life means nothing without you.'
I sniffed back my emotions just in time to see him stir out of his slumber and looking at him, I noticed something else, something really stupid. He had beautiful eyelashes, so long and……..beautiful!
He woke and stretched himself.
"Hi! Have a nice sleep?"
"The very best! You?"
"Umm! Couldn't have been better!"
"Look. I'm sorry I zoned out on you? That was soo inconsiderate of me."
"God Lucas? You took me to places I didn't even knew existed and then I turn over and go bye-bye's! I mean you have needs too?"
"Hey! It's okay! I knew that would happen! I didn't expect anything in return honestly!
Do you really love me Andy?"
"Yes. Yes I do. The first thing that went through my head when I woke was 'What did I do to deserve his love?' I can't find the words to explain myself but this must never end and……..and I'm not just talking about sex or diving…….."
"I know. Neither am I. I know how you're feeling. It runs so much deeper than that doesn't it."
"Umm. There's other stuff as well but I'll save it for later. I've gotta eat. My tummy thinks my throat's been cut!"
Lunch was the second most sizeable meal of the day and was pretty much always salad-based. Five a day? Who's kidding who here! Try twenty-five and you'll be closer to the mark!
Generally they were accompanied by lots of fish. Smoked Haddock, prawns, mackerel, whitebait, salmon, not all on the same day but varied throughout the week! Always eggs, loads of eggs and wholemeal bread and butter, not margarine, BUTTER! Yeah alright! Banged full of cholesterol but we burnt if off as quickly as we ate it but so filling was the meal, on days off like today, we tended to relax and allow it to digest as was recommended.
Lucas put his book down on the table.
"What other stuff?"
"Oh yeah…….. You had me right there on the edge of a precipice. I couldn't calm down, I needed to cum but couldn't. I have never felt so sexed up, you were touching something inside me that was driving me crazy, the pleasure was almost too much for me but then, just about the time I thought I was going to blackout? I heard a voice in my head. It kept me going, stopped me from passing out."
"Who's voice? What did it say to you, can you remember?"
"Oh Lucas!! It was yours!!!"
There was a pregnant pause, the colour drained from his face and when he spoke, his voice was shaking.
"A……..Andy? W……..what did the, I mean my voice……..say? Look……..this is……..important!"
"Lucas, you're frightening me!"
"Sorry but you have to tell me!"
"I CAN'T REMEMBER!!"
"Okay. I apologise.
Can……..can I try?"
"Tell you what that voice said to you?"
"This is all too weird!"
"The voice said 'Ride it Andy, ride those feelings. Don't give in. Take the pleasure and use it'……..That's what I was thinking Andy, You heard my thoughts. I sensed you were so very close but I knew it could be better for you. I was willing you to hang on, begging you to stay with it! OH MY GOD!! OH FUCKING HELL ANDY?"
I turned to him and held out my arms and once in my embrace we burst into tears and my God did we cry. I almost lost my voice and Lucas just couldn't seem to calm down.
"Look. Maybe it's just like a natural progression or something. First the little hints of understanding each other, then the hand touching, then eye-contact, now this."
"It's scaring the crap out of me Andy! I have no problem with you being able to hear my thoughts. I love you for Christ's sake and in a way it would prove to you that I'm not harbouring any misgivings but……..how can this happen? I must've said it out loud, not thought it?"
"Difficult when my dick is halfway down your gullet and your finger's up my arse wouldn't you say?"
He stifled a giggle!
"Thanks for snapping me out of it! That's really funny!"
"No! It was really good actually!
"Give me a break why don't you? You know full well what I meant shit for brains!"
"Yeah, I do. It just seems strange but one minute we're down there in the depths of despair then the next thing we know, we're on cloud nine. Why??"
"Someone told me it's called 'growing up'.
Come on. Let's get tea and get ready for tonight."
Life seemed to return to normal. The trips to training were uneventful, we weren't harassed in any way and for the most part people ignored us, dismissed us as just two boys who spent a lot of time together.
Our closeness seemed to have no boundaries. We worked and played as a single entity to the point where we started a completely new approach to our diving routines.
This departure from the norm didn't mean we altered our methods but we found ourselves surfacing at exactly the same time, swimming to the side of the pool using the same stroke and with the same number of strokes, exiting the pool the same way and at the same time. We weren't doing this intentionally, it just happened and actually, we weren't even aware we were doing it, it was Liam who brought it to our attention but then Sunday night, change over day number two, training was caught short. Tonight there was going to be a meeting of all concerned to iron out the problem of media coverage and how best to address it.
The SCGB had hired a small conference room at one of the hotels in Gloucester and so by half-past eight we were out, dried and changed then Tony drove us to the venue.
Although we'd faced up to our parents and told them about 'Bright', everything was gone over again and the meeting handed over to John Palmerstone, the legal eagle and some bloke we didn't know but was introduced to us as Paul Thomas, a PR man.
After some pretty heavy debating, questioning and so on, John Palmerstone took the chair.
"Right. So we're all agreed that a short documentary of the progress of the two boys from their early beginnings to date, television interviews and pictures in the press is the way forward are we?
I was fidgeting in my chair, Lucas looked almost shocked but the murmur of consensus echoed round the room.
"Good then it's settled. You'll get everything in place Paul?"
"Yes. I'll be on it first thing in the morning."
"Well we may as well call it a night. Thanks everyone."
Tony looked at us and contorted his face. Lucas looked at me and I could swear I heard him say 'You do it!'
I kicked back my chair sending it flying across the room and stood up.
"Now hang on just a moment? When is our take on this going to be taken into consideration? No one has even had the courtesy to involve us in any of these discussions, we might as well have gone home to bed for all our involvement! Nothing and I repeat NOTHING goes ahead without our say so!"
OMG! You could've heard a pin drop!
My father, something of a disciplinarian was furious with me!
"SIT DOWN ANDREW! That's quite enough from you. Decisions have been taken that all of us agree are in your best interests. How dare you speak to adults in that fashion!"
"Maybe I was rude Dad but this is all about us as you've just pointed out. I apologise to the room if I was out of order but……..I reiterate, involve Lucas and I or kiss it all goodbye."
"Meaning what exactly?"
"It's simple really. We do all the hard graft. It is up to us to perform, take whatever comes along, success or failure, ride the storms, work our nuts off but without having a say? Don't you think that's a bit unfair?"
"So what are you trying to say Andrew?"
"Involve both of us or……..there won't be anything to be involved in. We will pull out of the program."
Before my father could answer, Tony, all six foot five of him stood up.
"Right! I think it's about time someone put some perspective on this.
Children they might be but dare I say, only by virtue of their years. In all my dealings with them they have deported themselves as adults, trained with the enthusiasm and vigour of people twice their age and then some. As we've all seen they are capable of performances well in advance of anything yet seen from home-grown talent but as you rightly point out, they're still only twelve.
How much further could they go? How great an emissary for their country could they be? How much could they do to encourage other children into sporting activities and help get fitness back on the agenda? Already I've had petitions from pupils asking for the opportunity to train in various sports but money, finance is tight so only the very best are selected and Lucas and Andy are the best!! Oh God, the list goes on!
I apologise if I seem to be coming between father and son, interfering in family matters but Andy has a very valid point. We promised them at the outset that they would be fully involved in everything to do with their program of training, their education and in all things associated with it and now we are treating them in a way that must seem to them as if they're a side issue when in fact the opposite is the case. If it weren't for them showing their unbelievable skills and talent on Thursday evening, we wouldn't be in this room, there would be nothing to discuss. We asked them to perform, they were given plenty of opportunity to refuse but they very bravely went ahead and gave us all a spectacular display.
Now Andy's comment about pulling out of the program isn't some kind of temper tantrum 'it's my ball and if you don't let me play I'm taking it and going home' he, no they are deadly serious and I have every sympathy with them. We should be ashamed of ourselves, all of us. Tonight we've treated these boys with distain and disinterest instead of staying focused and remembering this is all about them and their wellbeing. Damn it! What I've had to listen to tonight sounds more like we're mounting an advertising campaign to market a new brand of soap powder rather than taking measures to ensure Lucas and Andy can go about their everyday lives, train and perform in a safe environment, shielded and protected from unwelcome interference. We've taken our eye off the ball and I for my part stand foursquare behind the boys." And with that he walked around the table and stood behind us.
Tony's outburst had stunned the room into silence for a few moments then Liam, Alec and Peter looked at each other and nodded their heads in agreement.
"You are absolutely right Tony. We have indeed taken our eye off the ball. Working alongside these two lads, the energy and enthusiasm, the shear guts and determination to get to the top and then God know where, it's easy for us to forget that we're not dealing with two adults but two young lads who aren't even into their teens yet. I think all of us were out of order."
My Dad looked up at me and nodded his head.
"I'm sorry son, sorry Lucas. You see we have the opposite dilemma to your coaches because while they find it easy to forget how young you are, we can't. We still see you as two kids who would, under normal circumstances be doing what young kids do. What we tend to overlook is that you've been catapulted into what is essentially an adult environment where you're treated as adults, put through your training as adults and so you tend to act like adults and well done to you. I think it's about time we as parents started treating you for the way you act rather than how old you are."
Paul Palmerstone cleared his throat.
"I……..umm…….. So what parts of what's been discussed are you lads unhappy with?"
Lucas's turn to take up the reigns.
"Actually not that much of it. All we wanted was for us to have some input but let's not go there shall we? I think we've done that one to death. There is one thing we're not happy with but I'll start with where we do have common ground.
The documentary. Very good idea. You see the thing is, we as kids hear all the negativity adults throw at us. How we're lazy, spend every waking hour in front of a games console, never pay attention to what's said to us, rude, belligerent and so on but instead of all of that giving us the kick up the ass to improve ourselves, the opposite is true and we think 'Well actually that isn't how I am but if that's the adults perception then I might just as well live it.' Maybe a documentary would be useful for both kids and adults to show them that there can be another way and by cutting us some slack and with a bit of gentle encouragement, all kids can be useful and productive members of society.
Press coverage? Fine. Newspaper and magazine interviews? Fine but we draw the line at doing TV interviews. We won't do them."
Mr Palmerstone looked around the room then back to Lucas.
"Is that 'you don't want to do them'?"
"Please Mr Palmerstone? Listen to what I said. What I said was that we wouldn't do TV interviews not that we didn't want to? Later perhaps but not in the foreseeable future. We're too young for celebrity status thank you. We want to concentrate on our athletics training and diving as Andy and I know we've still got so much more to give and we don't want anything to distract us."
"And Andrew. How about you?"
"But you haven't had the time to discuss it with each other. We've heard Lucas's take on it but not yours."
Liam laughed at this remark.
"Paul? If you knew these two lads as well as we do, when one speaks, they both speak! Why do you think Lucas used the term 'we' rather than 'I'? These boys know each other inside-out!"
"Okay fine. Do we have time to go over some detail so we're all of us in the loop?"
Everyone seemed happy to stay but I turned to my Dad.
"That's fine if you guys want to stick around but we've got to be back at Christchurch for six-thirty tomorrow morning so if no one minds, we'll disappear off home."
"Okay son. You boys run along." But Mr Palmerstone didn't seem so eager for us to leave.
"But I thought you wanted to have your say?"
"It's okay. We've said what we wanted to say, the rest we'll leave up to you but there is just one other thing? The documentary. We'd like to see it before its aired just in case there are any inaccuracies or if there's something we're not happy with."
"Actually I was going to suggest that. I'll arrange for a viewing before the final edit."
School the following morning was something neither of us were relishing. Inevitably we would be the centre of attention for a while although Tony had promised us that Mr Fairbairn was thinking about ways it could be managed not only to minimise disruption to the school but also to us.
As usual we jogged to school but this morning we were met by a senior prefect at the gates.
"Good job you two are early, Mr Fairbairn wants to see you in his office."
We walked to the administration block and knocked on his door.
We walked into the holy of holies where Mr Fairbairn was waiting for us.
"Hello boys. Wonderful performance the other night! Absolutely stunning and that's why I need to have a chat with you. Take a seat.
Right then. We had a sizable contingency of students there and no one couldn't have been anything else other very impressed and I expect the word went around over the weekend, it was certainly a major topic of conversation on Friday but then I was told about a video of your demonstration had been posted on Youtube and I forget now just how many hits it's had but it's into the millions so you have become, albeit unwittingly, overnight celebrities and I can only imagine most if not all the students here have viewed it.
Mr Rogers tells me that those around you, your coaches and the SCGB are carrying out damage limitation exercises but that doesn't help us in school so we must come up with a plan of our own.
My first thought was just to issue an edict that everyone was to leave you alone but it would be impossible to police but what might work is if you, as fellow students, were to personally ask for your privacy to be respected. A message direct from you rather than through a third party might just be enough to take the heat off you.
Now you don't have to do this, public speaking is a nerve wracking business but if I were to invite you to come up on stage during morning assembly, how would you feel about making a personal appeal to the entire school?"
Lucas and I looked at each other before I replied.
"We can do that Sir."
"Excellent! Do you need any help in putting a form of words together or would you prefer to make up your own?"
"I think we both know what we'll say Sir but thanks anyway."
"I don't understand how you know, I've only just asked you but I'll trust your judgement. I want you to go directly to the hall and wait behind the wings then when the time comes, I'll introduce you, then you come out onto the stage and I'll step down and leave it to you. Sound alright?"
"Now there is one last item on the agenda so please may I have your undivided attention.
Doubtless you're all aware that two of your fellow students were asked to put on a demonstration of formation diving during last Thursday's inter-school gala and subsequently a video of their performance was posted on Youtube and with the number of hits it's received numbering millions, they have become overnight celebrities and so they want to make a personal appeal to you.
Andrew Pope and Lucas Carmichael please come forward."
We walked through onto the stage and the whole school went mad. Cheering, clapping, wolf-whistles, it seemed to go on for ever but Lucas held up his hands asking for quiet and slowly the racket abated. Lucas started off.
"Thank you. Don't think that we don't really appreciate your enthusiasm because we do but we have something to ask you." Lucas stepped back from the microphone and looked at me to continue.
"Look at us." I pointed to our school uniforms. "We're just the same as you guys, two school kids who, up until Friday morning, no one would have given us a second glance but since that vid was posted we've been mobbed by a television crew and it's only thanks to Mr Rogers who is not just head of the sport department here but also one of our coaches, that we were able to get away from them. There's talk of making a documentary about our sport which would include clips of our training routines, newspaper and magazine interviews although we've refused to do TV. It's all getting too much, too overwhelming so this is what we need to ask you." I stepped back so Lucas could finish off.
"We need to ask a very special favour from you. As Andy said, this is all happening too quickly and we would ask you to try and keep Ashmead as a safe haven for us so we can just be normal kids.
Like I said at the start, we really do appreciate your interest but please, please don't be like that TV crew. Give us the space we need to study in peace and quiet, the chance to be just normal school kids and have laugh with our mates. Will you do that for us?"
There was a round of applause but no cheering and no wolf-whistles and when it stopped, we both just said a simple "Thank you."
We stepped back from the microphone to allow Mr Fairbairn to dismiss everyone.
"I'll have a word as soon as everyone's gone back to their classes lads."
He turned to the assembly.
"Now you understand what they're asking of you and I trust you'll all abide by their request. School dismissed."
"A very fine speech! Straight from the heart, short and to the point. Did you rehearse it?"
"No Sir. We both knew what we needed to say."
"But the way you swapped over? Surely you'd talked about that?"
"No Sir. We thought it right that we should both be asking so……..we just did it."
"Anyway, very well done. Now off you go to your classes."
"Mel? Could you find out if Tony Rogers could spare me a few minutes please? There's something I have to understand."
"According to his timetable, he's got a morning's admin. Do you want me to phone his office?"
"No, it's okay. I'll take a walk and find him. All this talk of exercise makes me realise how out of condition I am!"
"Hello Head Master? What brings you here? No……..let me guess. Andrew Pope and Lucas Carmichael! Pull up a chair."
"They're extraordinary children aren't they? I've been teaching for almost forty-four years but I've never come across two boys like them. Did you hear their little speech?"
"Yes. It was actually rather moving I thought."
"Yes I agree with you.
I've had conversations with them and they're very articulate but this morning, for me while the content was brilliant, the way they put it across, way they deliberately targeted the other students was nothing short of a genius stroke!
I'll give you an instance. To you or I they might have said 'so we can relax with our friends but they said, 'so we can have a laugh with our mates'. It hit all the right buttons, the kids took it on board because it was the language of the playground, 'kids-speek' if you like! But now this is what confuses me. Did you know that they didn't even rehearse that speech? Never even discussed all the business of changing from one to the other?"
"To be frank with you Head Master, nothing those boys do surprises me anymore.
I train with them six days out of seven, twice a day as do Messrs Coughlan, McBride and Burrows and none of us know how they manage to communicate the way they do.
Just as we've decided a way forward, they're one jump ahead of us! It's uncanny!
Can I ask you something?"
"Go ahead. This is fascinating stuff!"
"The SCGB are drawing up a program of events that they would like the boys to compete in. It's an extensive list, building up from domestic inter-club competitions, international club competitions and presuming they remain focused which we have no doubt they will, Commonwealth Games, European Games culminating in the 2016 Olympics which as you are probably aware, is being held in Rio.
There was a meeting last night and one of the things that came out of it was the fact that because they act like young adults, train like young adults, deport themselves in the same manner, we tend to lose sight of the fact they are only twelve, myself included. It isn't something we do intentionally but because they throw themselves into everything they do with such energy and determination, it just seems to be the natural thing to do.
From the schools perspective, we can do our bit to keep their feet firmly on the ground but in a way that doesn't dampen their enthusiasm and the very fact they like it here, they don't really want to go to a sports academy is an added bonus but with this very busy program ahead of them, how can we manage to maintain a good level of education, encourage them in everything they do, ensure they have a social life outside of the school and pool, help them manage all the pressure that they will be subjected to without completely wearing them out? If as we hope, they make it to Rio, they'll still be only fourteen? Still children? How can the school play its part?"
"Truthfully? I'm not sure. What is the SCGB's take on this?"
"Well if last night's meeting is any indication, it would appear that they're so excited about discovering such rare talent that all that they seem to be concerned about is shielding them from any unwanted interference and keeping them on track so they're ready to compete as and when the time comes. Given Andrew and Lucas's age, I doubt they've ever been in this situation before. They can and do provide private tuition but generally it's to kids somewhat older.
When our two compete in the domestic arena, there shouldn't be that much of an issue. We could figure out a means by which we can help them catch up on missed lessons but when they have to go abroad? They could be out of school for weeks!
Head Master, this really bothers me. One the one hand we all of us want to see them succeed but on the other, they are at risk of missing out on a good education."
"Yes, I take your point Tony. Let's just assume they had no objections about attending an academy which in many respects would be the obvious answer as they're used to taking a more flexible line but at their age, I doubt they'd be accepted and in any case, all their friends and family are here and it would be a bit of a wrench to leave the area, again given their age and whilst I know that children much younger than them attend boarding schools, they don't have the added pressure of training hard. Their coaching team would change as well so my view is we must look for a local answer. Minimise the disruption, try and keep things as normal for them as possible. Leave it with me, I'll have a dig around and see what options we have."
All the kids at school were great!
Yes of course they were interested in what we were up to and they had plenty of questions but we never felt crowded.
Paul and Loraine came and sat with us during lunch breaks and they both ribbed us in a friendly way about things they'd noticed.
"You know, you could take your pick of any of the girls in school. I've seen them go weak at the knees when they look at you, some of the boys too come to think of it!"
"Oh yeah right! They wouldn't get too much satisfaction out of two twelve year-olds!"
"Oh I wasn't talking about the girls!"
Loraine elbowed Paul in the ribs.
"For heaven's sake Paul? That's like really insensitive!"
Lucas reached over the table and patted her hand.
"It's okay Lor! He's a mate and it kinda goes with the territory but talking on that subject? Do you think many others suspect?"
"Well you know what schools are like. There are rumours and counter rumours flying around but the strange thing is, even those kids who think they know like 'how you blokes are' haven't said anything nasty. It's just like 'Well alright, so what!'"
"What I can't get my head around is why they should suspect? I mean we don't mince around the place like couple of old queens?"
"Andy? I take it you've seen the vid? The way you looked into each other's eyes when you were doing that thingy-bob, umm, springboard routine and then holding hands up on the high table not to mention the cuddle right at the end?"
"Yes……..I can see how that might look but we have very good reasons. The eye contact as is the hand touching not holding is our way of communicating. It's dead difficult to explain, even we don't know how it works but it sort of puts us in contact one with the other. It makes us concentrate and helps massively with our timing. Nothing more than that."
"Okay. I'll go with that and yes, it sounds logical but the cuddle?"
"That……..that was a cuddle, pure and simple!"
"That's really sweet! Have you told your folks yet? I mean we know you're out Lucas but what about you?"
"Yes they know and they were really nice, cool even!"
"I'm pleased for you, happy even.
So what's next?"
"More of the same. Training twice a day, school, homework, eat far too much and bed!
They are muttering about competitions now though which, I suppose is why we're doing it but I don't think anything's been arranged as such."
"Do you think it would be allowed if we came to watch you train sometime? We'd both really love to see you at work."
I looked at Lucas who again replied for both of us.
"Well we don't have a problem with that! It'd be nice to have some friendly faces geeing us along……..not that our coach's aint friendly you understand but to have mates around us would be cool. You'd have to ask Mr Rogers first but when you do, tell him we'd like it if you guys were around!"
The following lunchtime we were again joined by Loraine and Paul.
"We got the 'thumbs-up' from Mr Rogers! We told him that you were both happy about us coming along and his only comment that was just so long as we didn't go disrupting your training, we were welcome and then he said that it was nice if you had a bit of a following as all the hard work and stuff can be quiet a solitary thing so if it's alright with you two, we'll try and make it as often as we can."
Paul stood up.
"I've got things I have to do before classes so I'll see you all later. Bye for now."
Once he was out of earshot, Lucas turned to Loraine.
"How's everything between you guys then?"
"Oh Lucas he's wonderful! Such a gentleman! You were right on the money when you said he was the real article Andy. Do you know we went out together three times before he even kissed me and then that was something I had to instigate? No, I am really lucky! He's so considerate, so polite and caring, even my 'rents think he's like, well special!
You guys? Are you two okay still?"
"Nah! He's an asshole and I hate him!"
"Yeah right! Sorry but your body language gives you away!
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