My name is Determination I, Detra Kelowski am an average school-girl. I dress averagely and I have a small circle of close friends, and that is the part of life that I am most grateful for. The moment I set foot in Redwood Primary, Samantha Metts had gone out of her way to make my life as miserable as possible. In other words, I’m her new ‘target dummy’. Like the time she shoved my school books in the sink and turned the taps on. My mother had to buy a whole new set of textbooks and my relationship with Samantha went downhill after that incident. I’m really lucky to have close friends like Amber, Skye and Rhiannon. Amber always stands up for me, Skye is an excellent listener and Rhiannon is just naturally happy-golucky. One afternoon, Skye and Rhiannon were at music practice after school, and Amber was at home with a fever. I was strolling down the 4th floor corridor when I noticed a display of Ancient Greece created by the Grade 12s. There were tiny figurines of Greeks competing in the Olympics, a boy and a girl having a conversation in the middle of a bustling market place, a chariot racer falling of his chariot... Then I heard someone calling my name. “Kelowski!” I whipped around and felt my heart sink. Samantha Metts was striding up the corridor and the look on her face was murderous. “What have I done now?” I asked wearily. “You put ants in my schoolbag!” “Excuse me,” I said indignantly. “In case you haven’t forgotten, I have a fear of bugs. Why would I put ants in your schoolbag? It was probably Timothy.” Timothy was the class clown, famous among the students because of the pranks he played.
Samantha looked slightly abashed, but she quickly recovered. “I forgot you hated bugs.” She reached into her orange schoolbag and drew out her closed fist. Then she opened her fist. I screamed. Ants, a black ball of swarming ants was wriggling in her outstretched palm. I began to back away. To my horror, Samantha advanced, reaching out to grab my face with her free hand. Her finger nails dug in, and I could feel blood seeping out from the cuts, could feel the metallic taste of the scarlet liquid that kept me alive. I screamed again. “Coward!” shrieked Samantha. “Wimp! You’re nothing but a worthless piece of junk! When I grow up I’ll win the Olympics, and I’m stronger than you!” “I’ll show you!” I choked through tears and blood. “I’ll never let you get to me! Samantha pushed me away from her, and I crashed into the Ancient Greece display. I felt my head spin. The world was turning, over and over, swamped in white mist. Was this death? If it was, it was sadly boring. “Ooof!” Someone had just stepped on me. “Sorry-” a voice spoke out. I looked up to see a boy. “Well, where are your wings?” I asked. He stretched out his hand to help me up. I grabbed it, feeling my head spin as I did so. “Excuse me!”
“Well...” “Are you mad?” “No.” “Are you sick?” “No! No, I’m fine.” “Well, come on! The chariot races are starting and we need to get you a tunic! Oops! I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Per- Russell.” “No offense, but what kind of name is Per-Russell?” I asked. “My name’s Detra.” “No, no my name is just plain Russell.” “So, what do we do now, just plain Russell?” “Let’s just hurry up and get the tunic!” “Okay.” I replied. “Well, since you have short hair, we could just plonk a helmet on you and tuck your hair in.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “You’ll need a male tunic though. A female one is too obvious. Come, we’ll get you one right now.” We started to walk. As the leather pouch bounced against my leg, I could hear a lively tinkling coming from inside. I opened the drawstring and gasped out loud. “Look at all the coins in there!” “Whoa!” exclaimed Russell yet again. “Are you noble or what?” “No, there was just twenty bucks in my pocket when I crashed into the display. I guess that’s a lot in Ancient Greece. Where are we, by the way?” “Town market place! The Olympic Games are starting soon so lots of traders come to do business.” Russell sounded proud.
Something was vaguely familiar about the market place. But that can’t be, I told myself. I’ve never been to Greece before. Then it hit me: This was the exact same place as the market square in the display! And there was a boy and girl having a conversation while strolling along the streets: Me, and Russell! Only I didn’t mention this aloud: It might alarm Russell. But inside I wondered: What brought me here? Was this real? Was I dreaming? A voice jolted me back to earth. “Here we are! The finest tailor in Greece!” I reeled. The store was draped in every possible fabric imaginable. Silk, cashmere, satin, calico, cotton, linen, wool, damask, flannel, muslin, and more, all available in a rainbow of colours. I moved towards a reel of indigo silk, but Russell pulled me away. “White linen tunic, male cut please.” He stated firmly. The tailor, a wizened old woman with half her teeth missing moved forward to examine Russell. Since Russell was the only boy in the shop, the tailor obviously thought the tunic was for him. “I’ll pay.” I reached into my pouch and drew out several large, gold coins. The tailor stared at them. “The tunic is only seven copper pieces.” Clearly the gold coins were more than she would earn in a month. “Take them.” I insisted. I won’t need them for much longer anyway, I added to myself.
With the clothing fixed and Russell lending me his helmet, we set of to the games. Russell provided a tour of the streets as we passed various traders and stalls filled with exotic merchandise. “Now, put the tunic on, and the helmet.” I did so, feeling the cool linen brush my face as I slipped the tunic over my head. We strolled casually over to the guard who was squinting at passersby. “We’re here to enter into the chariot races. Could you provide the chariot and horses?” The guard grunted what was probably a yes and we stepped into the arena. Hopefully, I would come out again. *** “Chariot races!” A voice boomed across the stands. Russell poked me in the back. “Time to go,” He whispered. “Don’t forget to do up the strap.” I jammed the helmet further down my forehead and stumbled down the steps. The chariots were gleaming in the sunlight and the sight nearly blinded me. I clambered into the chariot just in time to grasp the reins, brace my feet and then the start horn blasted. I slapped the reins and we were off! I could feel the horses hoofs pounding the dusty track and feel the wind whistling through my hair. We were in the lead! As we rounded the bend in the track, I could hear the other competitors galloping along behind us. They were gaining! I urged my horses on, and they sprinted towards the finish line. The horses were streaking so fast that I could feel the helmet slipping off. I fumbled for the strap and realized I hadn’t done it up as Russell had said. But I couldn’t let go of the reins. However, I knew if my helmet fell off I would be revealed and all would be lost. The worst happened. My horses put on a sudden spurt of speed and the helmet flew off my head, bounced off the chariot with a deafening CLANG and lay in the dust, battered and dented. I could hear the crowd gasping, screaming, but I didn’t care. I had to finish the race and show Samantha that I wasn’t a wimp.
I urged the horses on, and with a final jet of speed, we rocketed across the finish line. I let go of the reins and thrust my fists into the air. “Yes!” Big mistake. The chariot careened sideways and the horses, spooked, started to run in opposite directions. I flew out of the chariot and landed hard on the track. Completely winded, I saw that my left leg had a gash down the calf. A horse’s hooves had scraped my side in its panic to get away. In a flash, Russell was at my side, pulling me to my feet. He dragged me across the track. I pulled away from him and raced towards the prize table. I snatched up the wreath of olive branches that marked me as the winner. “Hey!” A guard had seen me and was chasing me. I raced back to Russell and we both sprinted out of the arena. I could hear more guards rushing after us, shouting “Stop! Thief!” But I didn’t care. I had the prize, and it was rightfully mine anyway. Russell dragged me down a side street and into an alcove. He pulled out his medicine pouch and rubbed some foul-smelling paste into my wound. “Ouch!” I yelled, the paste felt like alcohol swimming right into my blood. “Shhh... You’ll attract the guards.” Too late. The guards had spotted us. I thought we were doomed, but apparently Russell disagreed with me. “Perseverance!” He shouted. Suddenly we were swirling through the white mist. My head was spinning, and I remembered the Greek display: The Greeks competing in the Olympics, the boy and girl having a conversation, and a chariot racer falling off his chariot. Me, I thought dazedly. That was me. Could that display have been a time machine? A machine for predicting the future? My last conscious thought was: This again? Someone was shaking me.
“Go way...” I mumbled, my words slurred. “I wanna sleep.” Whoever was shaking me was now poking me in my stomach. I jerked awake. I was lying on the smooth tile floor of the 4th floor corridor. Russell was still poking me. “Finally! I thought you’d died.” “Had a vision...” “Yes, but are you okay?’ However, I wasn’t listening to him. I was staring at the person over his shoulder: Samantha. She looked very shocked. I struggled to my feet. Russell didn’t stop me. I think he sensed I needed to handle this on my own. I walked towards Samantha. My throat went very dry. “I went to the Olympics. I entered in the Olympics. I won the Olympics. I’m not a wimp!” So there, I added, in my head. “No you didn’t.” Her voice was shaking, but some of her old scorn was back. “How could you have gone back in time? We don’t use olive wreaths anymore for prizes in the Olympics. Time machines don’t exist. You’re just lying.” “Oh, but I’m not,” I said. Praying this would work, hoping against hope, I reached into my pocket and groped around. It wasn’t there. I reached deeper into the pocket and my fingers brushed the smooth, leafy fronds of the olive branch wreath. I pulled the wreath out and showed it to Samantha. There was a stamp on the edge of a leaf that certified that the prize was genuine. To my pleasure, her jaw dropped. “Where did you get that?” “I told you, dummy, I won the chariot races! This is the prize!” “All right, you won the Olympics. Not! Now spit it out! Where did you get it?” I didn’t say anything. I simply gestured to the Ancient Greece display. Samantha walked towards it, and halted. She was staring at the model of the charioteer falling off his chariot. Then she stared at me. Her eyes moved down my body, laying to rest on my left
calf. I followed her gaze and gasped. The gash from the chariot races was still there. It wasn’t bleeding anymore, but the skin around it was blotchy and stretched taught. A red mark was all that was left of the blood. Maybe Russell’s paste had worked. However, when I looked at the wound, I knew I would have a scar with me for the rest of my life. So it had been real, I thought. Or had it just been a dream? “Okay, Kelowski. You win. I believe you.” My body flooded with happiness. But I had to make sure of something. “You might believe me, but you’ve got to promise not to bother me any more.” I had refrained with great difficulty from saying ‘harass’ instead of ‘bother’. Samantha looked very grumpy about this arrangement but replied “Fine,” then she walked away. *** Russell waited until she had disappeared from sight, then he turned to me. “I need to go. The thingy-” He gestured to the mass of white mist, “It’s closing up. But I have something to tell you. My name isn’t really Russell. It’s just a code name. My real name is Perseverance. Perseverance Bolshwa. My family has an annoying habit of giving their children weird names. We’re not supposed to share them with anyone. But I think my parents would approve of you having one of their names.” My face was glowing. “Really?” However, Russell didn’t answer. He was walking into the white mist, and the edges of his body were fogging slightly. Then the mist turned into a gale. Russell was being sucked towards the cloud of swirling white mist. “Russell!” I screamed. “What’s my name now?” He yelled back something that was lost in the wind. “Who am I?” I shouted. The gale had died down now, and something came flying out of the hole and bounced on the floor. I didn’t care. I had to know who I was, I had to!
And over the sound of the swirling mist, an echoey voice floated back through the gloom that was filling the corridor. “Your name is-Determination!” After that, he was gone. It all came flooding back. Everything made sense now. But just for a second. Then the knowledge was ripped from me, just like Russell. I started to walk back down the corridor. I felt something hard beneath my feet. I stooped and picked it up. It was a gold coin, the one of the coins I had used to pay the tailor. It was engraved with the initials P.B. It was Russell’s sign. I slipped it into my pocket along with the wreath of olive branches, the only mementos of my exploits into Ancient Greece. *** When I slipped into bed, I was wondering. If my name was Determination, then was I still Detra? It was all very confusing. But all was at peace, at least for now. Samantha wasn’t going to bother me. When I woke up the next day, I thought that I was worthy of the name Determination.