Danny is talented at the high jump, just as his dad was.

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Mum says Dad used to be good at high jump, just like me. The best part is when I get over, and a part of me had been scared I wouldn’t make it, and I had to shut that bit up. I had to say, Danny, just do it, and start that run up, feel the run change into upwards action—over!—and the bar rattling on the uprights and staying there. Yes!


Maybe this time.Just like my dad. If only Dad could see me. He could coach me. He could take me down to Memorial Park and stand next to me, giving me tips. It’s all over like a flash, and I wish Dad could be there like a video camera, seeing it all and explaining it to me.


My friend Kieran hasn’t got a dad either. Well, he never had a dad, so that’s why he doesn’t have much use for them. But he likes Mr. Allens, our coach. Mr. Allens spends lots of time on Kieran. He thinks Kieran has a lot of promise. Kieran can jump 1.4 meters. Mr. Allens doesn’t say I have a lot of promise.


Kieran says he’d rather be skateboarding than practicing. I wouldn’t mind skateboarding if I had a skateboard. I bet that soon I’d start trying to do jumps, though. Getting up in the air, that’s what I like. I like height.


Well, Mum said forget about a skateboard. I said if she had a job at Talleys like Kieran’s mum I could get a skateboard.


“What, work all night?” Mum said.


I wouldn’t want to work all night for a skateboard either if I had to give it to someone else.


It would be better if Dad had a rich job in the mines like Thomas’s dad. His dad sends him a check every year. Last Christmas Thomas bought an eighteen-speed mountain bike.


I wouldn’t mind a mountain bike. Mum said don’t even bother. Thomas has a skateboard, too, and in-line skates and a video-game player. Kieran and I go round there and play on it: Destruction Derby, Shining Force.


Kieran wants a video-game player, but his mum says her job isn’t up to it, and even if it were, she doesn’t want him staying up all night like a zombie with his finger on the fire button.


“Get me a mountain bike then,” said Kieran. “Then I’d be out in the fresh air all day.”


“Get going,” she said. “It’s practice night.” So we walked down to Memorial Park.


I’d like a skateboard and a mountain bike, and a video-game player would be cool, but what I really want is to jump 1.4 m. To jump 1.4 m at the school sports day next week and come in first.


Maybe Dad would come home and stay then, if he heard I won the high jump. Just like he did. He won it in high school. I don’t know how high he jumped. Mum’s hopeless on important details like that. And how high could he jump when he was my age, that’s what I want to know. And did he have a coach who made a fuss of someone else?


Thomas is down at Memorial Park. He’s on his bike, leaning against the fence.


“Hey, Kieran. Danny. Come and get fish and chips. I’ve got Final Fantasy VII out. Want to play?”


“Na, we’ve got practice,” says Kieran.


“So?” says Thomas.


Me and Kieran look over at the grounds. Mr. Allens is tugging the high-jump mats into place.


“OK,” says Kieran. “Danny?”


I want to go off with them. Especially when Thomas is paying. He always lets us get a fish each and a hot cream doughnut and heaps of chips. My stomach is saying, yes! yes! and already feeling hot and golden inside. Besides, we only had crackers after school because Mum had run out of bread again.


“Come on,” says Thomas.


But my legs have that tingling feeling they get when I see those fat blue mats. They can’t wait for that rush of energy, that leaping into the air, and maybe this time, this time. So I say “na” to the boys and try to forget about chips and go help Mr. Allens with the mats.


He sets the bar at 1.1 m. I crash it down on my first attempt. I’m mad at myself. I wanted to go with Kieran. My legs haven’t got the right feeling.


Then Mr. Allens calls me over.


“You’re taking off too far back, Danny,” he says. He draws a line in the grass and says, “Take off from here,” so I do.


I get up to 1.2 m and I clear it, and I’ve forgotten about those guys and Final Fantasy VII because now the bar is going up to 1.4 m and I think I can do it, I think I can.


Mr. Allens is watching me as if he thinks I can, too. I look at the bar and the curve I have to run and the place in the grass where I leap from. Then I’m running long, loping strides, then shorter, the feeling of speed going up my legs, and then I’m lifting off, one leg, the other, my arms high.


Look at me, Dad! I want to yell, and then I’m landing and looking up. The bar is still. I cleared it by miles, and here comes Mr. Allens. I know what he’s going to say.


“You’ve got a lot of promise, Danny.”


And I have.