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I pretend that I am content
A LONG JUMPER ... entering the discus ring? Yep. Time to whirl and explode, unleashing all the power she's been building in that dungeon of a weight room, that cramped, dank socket that was left when the stage was torn out at one end of the basketball gym built by a Works Project Administration crew back in '38. That subterranean cell where the rain seeps through the sandstone, the puddles gather, the mud oozes and the rust corrodes the few sorry pieces of equipment.
Bonnie's favorite place in the whole school.
No one, till a month ago, taught her the correct technique for throwing the discus, got her to start turning 1½ circles in the ring before she let it fly, but that's no reason to feel good about that 121-footer arcing across the Texas sky, no justification for that eruption of hurrahs from her family and friends. Take a chill pill, people. Calm down. Geez, hyper people annoy her to no end.
She places third. That's six more points to go with the eight she got in the long jump in the 10-8-6-4-2-1 scoring format applied to the 14 individual events. God, she could just strangle her two older sisters, Lee and Adele, cooing at her to smile on the award stand while the winner and runner-up beam.
I touch true happiness in my imagination
MAYBE IT'S too open, too blank, the land Bonnie arose from. Maybe the mind can't hold that much possibility and needs to erect fences, retract horizons, hem in what always has been. Now Bonnie's being introduced for the high jump, and the crowd starts to notice: Hey, isn't that the same girl we saw in the long jump and the discus? Now's when some folks, during her regular-season meets in little towns that pock the Texas rangeland, call out, "You think you're so good! Why don't you stop showing off?" Or, "Are you sure she's a girl? She doesn't look like a girl." Folks uncertain where, in the corrals they've created, to place a powerful and ferocious female, a warrior.
It's worse at her basketball games, where Bonnie—an all-state post player who just led the Hornets to the Texas semifinals—outleaps or outmuscles everyone for a rebound, steps over opponents who have fallen, outraces everyone the length of the court to score and outraces them all back to swat away their shots. "Having Bonnie in the paint," observes Lee, "is like having Shamu in your bathtub."
Monster, one opponent called her. Sasquatch, fans hollered. Bigfoot. It. "They're putting a man out there!" some people howled. "Can we get a cup check on that one?" She'd roll her eyes, respond under her breath with that bone-dry humor she picked up during all those years of apprenticing under Lee, the master, and then set her jaw and just play fiercer. But it had to hurt.
In elementary school she loved being the swiftest, strongest, tallest. Then came braces and big feet and puberty, the growing consciousness of self, the small minds and maybe even the stiletto tongue of Lee. Bonnie began to downplay everything she did, cut it down to size before anyone else could, stack it in neat cords to feed her raging furnace. Seemed to work.