I charged down the road, going as fast as I could in my new heels. I had underestimated the time it would take for me to try out the new summer makeup, and I was late yet again. My phone vibrated violently as I rounded the corner, its ringtone ringing annoyingly for the seventh time in the last five minutes. I didn’t bother picking up; it was only the registration woman at Snakes and Ladders. Really, if they wanted me to get there any sooner, why would they bother calling me every thirty seconds? It would only waste more time.
I had to double check the location of the building when I finally got there. Of all things I expected the competition location to be, it was not this dingy and creepy building. I know, the sign said “participants of snakes & ladders please enter through the side door”, but one can never be too sure. After refreshing the GPS app for the umpteenth time, I walked in and almost jumped out of my skin when the automatic voice spoke. Tottering down the corridor, just as the voice instructed me, I was met by a strange woman. Her thin eyebrows shot through the roof as she looked me up and down. I was tempted to ask her what her problem was, but I knew better. A champion never starts off on the wrong foot, and neither am I.
“I think you’d better get in that room there and take all your clothes off,” she told me through a thin and weedy voice.
“I thought this was a skills competition, not a striptease club,” I said to her, not moving an inch towards the room she indicated.
“For starters, you are not going to get anywhere in that ridiculously short dress. It also has metal buttons, a no-no. And those shoes, my god! You could easily stab someone with them, if you don’t kill yourself first!”
“Hey, I am not going in there naked!” I protested.
She did not say another word. Shoving me into the room, she threw in a bundle of clothes in after me. I shrugged out of my dress and eyed my new clothes with distaste. I haven’t worn a pair of runners since year 7, and these were not exactly the nicest. The jeans fitted, but I much preferred black jeans to these dark blue ones. And the shirt; it was the ugliest purple tie-dyed shirt I’ve ever seen.
“Can I swap for a blue shirt?” I yelled from inside the change room.
“If you wanted to choose the colours, you should’ve gotten here much earlier than this!” she replied.
Clad in my new clothes, I followed the hateful woman to the next area. It was a gym, with equipments arranged all over the interior. After a few laps of the gym, I was made to do pushups and sit-ups, throwing exercises and flexibility tests. Any physical tests you could think of, I did it in that half hour.
I was dead tired by the time we reached the third area, but I was still convinced that I could take out this thing. The sour-faced woman opened the door and pushed me through roughly, her nails leaving behind marks on my arm. There were already five people there, and from the looks on their faces they’ve been waiting for a while.
“Hey, I’m Victoria Graham,” I called to them, “But call me Tori.”
They all looked up, and the boy in the blue T-shirt motioned me to come over.
“Hey, I’m Charlie,” he said simply.
“Archie,” said the boy in the green shirt.
“I’m Alex,” said the good-looking boy in the tight white shirt, then pointed to the girl beside him, “This is Lilly.”
“I’m Addie,” said the youngest girl as she extended her hand to me, a competitive glint in her eyes, “I’m going to win this thing.”
No you’re not, I thought to myself, I am.