It was gym time and I collected my girls' nametag necklaces so that they could play without them being in the way. They ran as fast as their four-year-old legs could carry them. Feeling much the minority, I walked over to the wall that they were lined up at prepared to sit next to Jo, the girl that was too afraid to play sharks and minnows and watched from the sidelines with her leader by her side.
From the very first day, she clasped onto my hand and refused to play. It had become a habit.
"Are you sure you don't want to play?" Her tiny rainboots reminded me of the larger ones that I owned back in my room.
"Yes." Contented, but with no smiles we watched. Eventually her hand leaves mine and she folds them in her lap and fidgets with her pink and purple outfit.
The first time this conversation took place, tears were shed before the comfortable silence began. The idea of a shark must have been horrifying.
As the semester wore on, it became ritual to sit on the sidelines. The same question came up with the same response.
"I...I think I'm going to play it this time." We hold hands against the wall until the game begins. The first hesitant step makes me believe she is planning on taking me with her, but then her grip lessens as she moves away and she leaves me at the wall to run away from the other kids.
Standing with all the other leaders, I can't help but feel a sense of pride. The smile on her face shows no hint of holding back as she reaches the other wall and looks back at me.
You remind me of myself. Don't worry, the fear will go away.