Ed was not a great athlete although he had always wanted to be. He had idolised sporting stars like most young boys but a combination of his slight disfigurement and a gammy foot had caused him to be ostracised from serious sport. He smiled to himself as a brief wash of despair overcame him. He could have been a contender, huh! That was his trouble.
He kept telling himself what he could have been. His mother, to whom a place like Winfield and all it stood for was anathema, was always telling him he had his whole life in front of him. It didn't feel like that to him. Maybe he should never have accepted the scholarship place here. He was a fish out of water, a joke; a freak.
The taunts, jibes and smart remarks still hurt. He was close to genius level in mathematics. He loved numbers. He understood them. They spoke to him. They were his friends. He could see how they worked together, related, and synchronised. It was people he had trouble with.
If only he could have made quarterback instead of understanding transfinite cardinals. Then people would take notice of Ed Leeming; the right kind of notice. One day they would do just that. They would know all about Ed Leeming.
For the moment he hunched his shoulders in his familiar fashion and happened to glance at his reflection in a nearby window just as the sun peeped over the top of the roof. For a second his profile was etched to perfection, caught in a time frame.
The inflamed mark on his cheek was hidden, his squint appeared natural in the sunlight and shadow buried his projecting teeth till they looked just normal. For that brief second he was looking at someone else's face; someone he knew very well indeed; someone he hated with a fierce passion. Scott Stockton and Ed Leeming were opposites, yet in that brief moment in the spotlight they could have changed places. For that brief moment too Ed imagined just what it would be like to be Scott Stockton, who was a shallow and rampant Adonis figure, totally hedonistic and devoted to his own pleasure, yet with something of his father's natural acumen and sense of destiny. He was everything that Ed was not. At that brief and fiery instant, with sunlight drawing a bead along his profile, Ed Leeming fantasised that he was Scott Stockton, and yet himself. In other words, he had what Stockton possessed and more.
The sun moved over the edge of the roof drowning the graveled pathway with light, drenching Ed with the full power of its illumination and dispelling the short lived illusion. A couple of girls strolled by, glanced at Ed staring into the window and giggled. Startled, Ed hunched protectively and shuffled off.
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