I stand in the circle and my back faces the direction of my throw. My feet are squared. My weight shifts from leg to leg. I never look back at the wedge of green stretched far behind me. Still, I see it spread out behind my eyelids. I begin to pass the discus back and forth with each shift of my weight. Left. Right. Left. Right. I open my eyes.
I swing my right arm and search for my rhythm. I see my teammates in front of me. Some joke around. Some others are lost in thought. And a few have their eyes fixed on me. They know my wind up will soon begin. They hold their water bottles but do not drink. I sense their emotions. Nervous. Hopeful. Doubtful. Waiting. In a way, not so different from how they look at every teammate when they throw. How I look at them. But it feels different to me.
Coach. His eyes narrowed in a squint. I can’t tell what he’s thinking. If she wants to play at being a boy, what to do I care? he told my parents. Then he just shrugged. I wasn’t supposed to hear. But I did.
Then I find the rhythm. I’m dialed in. When I was on the girls team I never quite tuned in to that groove. And I begin to wind up. I swing my right arm back, the discus now vertical. I’m balanced on my right foot and the ball of my left. Winding up the tension. Tightening my muscles, a snake coiled with intent to strike. I’m committed. There’s no turning back now.
I’m not on the girls team anymore.
My swing begins. My weight shifts to my left foot and my right leg comes off the ground at the same time as I begin to spin. Perfect balance is required. I have practiced this move thousands of times and I will for thousands more. Believe it. But right now, I am only in the moment. Or maybe outside the moment. I feel my muscles uncoil. I feel the rotational force of my swing. I balance on my left foot like a top, held upright by opposing forces.
A throw only lasts a few seconds. Most people think there’s not much to throwing a discus. How hard could it be? It’s just a heavy frisbee. I think of my throw like an enso. The uninterrupted swirl of the brush leaves the circle on the paper but my throw leaves even less for the universe to remember — apart from the final measure of the distance as proof that on this one day I stood here, that on this one day I threw my discus. That on this one day I was present.
My right foot plants. My power position. Two thirds through the rotation now.
They will measure the distance of the throw and claim they can tell what kind of boy I am. Someone will say, last place. What a sissy. Or maybe I will be in the middle of the pack. Those who lose to me jeered. Those who beat me relieved. But what if I this throw, this time, what if I beat them all? What will they say then? Maybe you really can judge someone from a single throw. But I doubt it.
I rotate my right hand, leveling the discus, anticipating the release. My left foot touches the ground just after the right. I feel the discus roll across my index finger as it leaves my hand. It’s on its own now. All that’s left is for me to spend the remaining force by spinning in place. I land facing outwards down the field.
The discus is still in the air. My teammates watching now behind me. Their mouths hanging open, their eyes fixed on the discus. But I keep my eyes shut. The throw felt good.
Good throw kid. Coach. A few kids cheer. Most say nothing.
The only thing on my mind is my next throw.
Geoffrey Marshall is a writer in Aurora, Canada. He knows just enough to be dangerous (mostly to himself) in several different fields. You can find his work in the September 2022 issue of MoonPark Review as well as The Ansible and Academy of the Heart and Mind. Upcoming work will appear in an episode of the Kaidankai podcast and A Thin Slice of Anxiety. His education never really took, through no fault of his instructors (debatable) but he did manage to acquire a BA in English Literature from Carleton University. Find him on twitter @g_k_marshall.