By first term of Year 6 I was a fully fledged fat girl. I still hadn't gotten any taller and my stomach had expanded due to a particularly hot Perth summer which I tackled by sleeping most of the day and eating Red Rooster quarter chicken and chip packs with mash and gravy by night. I spent the nights watching The Mighty Ducks on repeat in my bedroom, with short breaks for drinking tumblers of Coke in the kitchen, wondering when Dad might come home.
My beloved red and white raglan Cleveland Indian's T-shirt had gotten too tight for me, and you could see my nipples through my lemon coloured school polo shirts. Dad didn’t think that buying a new school uniform was a priority since I'd be going to high school next year anyway. So when it was announced on the first day of school that the sports carnival would be held the following week due to possible industrial action later in the year I panicked, as I knew I was bound to come last in every race again. I also suspected that my former best friend Amber, who I'd hung out with every day for three years until this summer holidays would come first in every race, because for some reason despite her equally trashy diet, she was tall, leggy, athletic and to top it off, really pretty. So I came up with a plan to tear off my big toenail, and tell my teachers that it had flaked off during the night so I didn't have to participate.
On the night before the big day I sat on my bed, trying to work out how to get my toenail off. I chose to sacrifice my right foot because after comparing the two for a minute or so I decided that I liked my left foot better. I got a pair of scissors out of the second drawer in the kitchen, and over half a horrendously painful hour I cut off half of my toenail and then slowly pulled the rest off as close to the cuticle as possible. My skin tore and started bleeding much more than I thought it would. I was getting worried about all the blood so I hobbled to the bathroom and wrapped some toilet paper around my big toe to try and stop the bleeding. In seconds the blood began to seep through the tissue so I rolled the rest of the toilet roll around my foot and limped back to my bedroom to tape up my toilet roll sock.
The next morning I got up early to assess the damage. The bleeding had stopped, but it started right up again as I peeled back the tissue from the toe, and my eyes started watering as I pulled off the rest of the dressing. I slowly walked over to the shower, leaving drops of blood on the old carpet as I went. I rolled on some more toilet paper, chucked an Explorer sock over the top and got dressed for school in my squishy Gold faction T-shirt, which was of course not actually gold but primary yellow. I yelled to Dad that we were out of toilet paper as I went out the front door, banging the flyscreen shut. He didn't reply.
Mrs Molina was in charge of Gold faction that year. She had been my Year 2 teacher and had liked me back then, but had not spoken to me since I had become what my other teachers had described as "a juevenile delinquient in the making." I went over to Mrs Molina and in my most serious voice told her that I wouldn't be able to play sport today because my toe had flaked off in the night. I offered to show her the damage and began to remove my sock but Mrs Molina stopped me and told me to just sit in the corner and to not make trouble. As I sat on the edge of Gold faction's crepe streamer marquee, my toe pulsating with pain, it dawned on me that I really should've just told them that my toenail had flaked off instead of actually going to the trouble of removing it.
It seemed like all of the fatty's were in Gold this year, and we were coming last overall by lunchtime. We still sang our team spirit songs like “Running down a water fall, landing on a cactus, Gold’s gunna win without any practice” but it made no difference. Gold faction sucked.
The final race of the day was the Year 6 relay. When they first took off it seemed like Gold might actually be in with a chance, but by the third lap it was a two horse race between Blue and Red, with Green and Gold lagging almost a whole lap behind. Amber, the star of Red faction grabbed the baton on the last lap and powered down her lane, beating Chelsea from Blue faction in a photo finish. You just couldn't help but be impressed by Amber.
At the awards ceremony, Amber won overall best girl, which no one was surprised about since she'd won everything from the long jump to the egg and spoon race. I went up to her to say congratulations and to see if she wanted to walk home with me, but she said no because her Mum was taking her out to celebrate. I waved at Amber's Mum but I don't think she saw me. Mrs Mollina denied me a participation ribbon on the grounds that I did not participate, and when the bell mercifully rang I walked home alone, wondering how long it would take for my toenail to grow back.