I'm so proud of you.
I pursed my lips and sighed, dropping my gaze. I wouldn't look at her not after she had complimented my rival. I wouldn't see her smile or the encouraging glow in her eyes. I wouldn't watch the way she treated him. I had tried it too but I had failed. Matthew Nathaniel Smith had blown it. And I'd been working at it longer than Andrew.
Most of all, I wouldn't watch Andrew gloat.
There was only one solution: I needed to try again. And again. And again.
I wouldn't surrender until I had accomplished it. And I wouldn't let them see me fail even one more time.
I crept off into the other room, pushing the door closed with my foot. Silence, except for the thump of my heart.
I had watched others do it over and over. It wasn't impossible. I'd never read a book or taken a class, but, then again, neither had Andrew. At least, I never saw him study.
Practice? Absolutely. Over and over. Just as I had. Only one difference: Andrew succeeded. I didn't.
Well, I was done falling on my face. He wouldn't be the only one rewarded for his efforts. I'd stay in this room until I could do it too.
I tried once. Twice. Three times. Failure. Fists clenched and arms crossed, I sat. This wasn't working.
Inhaling deeply, I focused my mind on the task. What had he done that I hadn't? Why had he succeeded while I failed?
My eyelids squeezed shut, I reviewed my memory of his most recent performance. Examined each part of his body in turn, from the soles of his chubby feet to the tip of his bald head. There had to be something.
But I wasn't seeing it. I leaned against the wall, rubbing my tongue across my gumline (it helped me think.). Was it Andrew's confidence? His stance? His focus?
And as I looked down at my hand, it all sharpened for me like a blurry image just coming into focus.
I rose to my full height, rested my hand on the couch arm beside me, and put one foot in front of the other. And again. And once more. Then, with a deep breath, I let go and took one more step.
And I didn't fall. So I kept doing it. My smile widened, and my fingertips danced in the air. And I giggled. Boy, did I giggle. Even when I found myself back on the floor, my diapered rear kissing the carpet, the laughter didn't stop.
Ma! Ma! I screamed once the words could escape my lips.
Poor boy. Are you trapped in there?
I scooted back to the couch, pulled myself up again, and watched until her face peeked through the doorway. As soon as she saw me, I repeated my performance. Without an error straight to her pantleg.
She lifted me, swinging me up into her embrace. Oh Matty! Look at you. Such a big boy just like your brother. I'm so proud of you.
As I glanced over her shoulder, Andrew crawled by with that pick-me-up-too-mommy look.
I hugged mama tighter, and stuck out my tongue. Victory.
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