No. 422

Pete Troutlicky was born with fins for hands, and had shiny scales all over his body. He was unpopular at school, and not particularly good at anything.

He was chosen last for baseball, placed last at his piano recital, and his mark for penmanship was “poor”.

When his school announced that there would be a swim meet in the spring, Pete was excited. Perhaps finally this would be something he would succeed at. He began training immediately, and worked hard all through the winter.

On the day of the meet, Pete was as ready as he would ever be. He waited patiently for his race, ignoring the meaner children, who taunted him. “Fish boy”, they said. “Scaly loser”, they called him.

He took his place on the starting platform, and when the gun sounded, he leapt into the water. He swam as fast as he could across the pool.

When he reached the other side, he popped his head above the surface and looked around.

All the other racers had finished, already. Pete was last.

He crawled out of the water and wrapped himself in his towel. He slunk to the back of the bleachers and sat alone.

A teacher saw, and came closer to speak with him.

“I tried my hardest,” Pete told the teacher.

The teacher nodded. “You did, Pete. But sometimes life just isn’t fair.”