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  • Naked, I stand at the concrete pools edge. Somehow, I know this is unusual, not right.
    Others, older kids, are in swimsuits or various colours and shapes. I feel different. I want to be like them, and I have a sense of wrongness, of not belonging. It makes me ache a little.

    Yet I also feel something joyous in my podgy nudity. Pink belly poking out proudly soaking up the sun, feeling it warm and embrace me.
    Only me.

    My first conflict of wanting to be different yet the same.

    As our trio of funmakers walked towards the paddling pool, from the bus-stop, the pool looked a lazuli blue, but as we drew close, I could see the algae lurking in places spread across the bottom, leaving a map of treacherous paths, for all who played.
    It brings back an urgent memory, a sharp fear - slip, bang, blood, shame.

    This time, I step in carefully, holding onto Mummy's soft loving hand. I smell the suncream she has lathered over me and I step gingerly in. I focus on her hand and her warm brown slacks to keep me strong.

    My sister is in already, splashing with an older boy. I dare not enter this game yet and sit on the edge, my teeth chattering as my temperature adjusts to the cool of the pool.

    My pink sun hat feels like body armour, I am OK as long as I wear this. It moves slightly in the breeze in rhythm with the trees in the park and I hold on. Tight.

    I hear the cars go by and smell the exhaust. As small as I am, I wonder why nature smells better than cars.

    The other kids are laughing and playing. I am the youngest.

    I climb out and crawl into Mummy's chocolate lap for a cheese sandwich and a cuddle. I will try to brace the pool again shortly.
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