Discussion Question: When have you felt out of place? How can you capture that experience in words?

The Prompt

Write about a time you felt out of place, awkward, and uncomfortable.


I dived because I felt good about diving. It made me noticeable, and the floor painted a raw, red pride onto my knees. My insecure gaze attached to the instructor and she shook it off immediately, cutting the harness off of my suspended heart with the sharp eyes that ignored mine completely, like deflated volleyballs under the bleachers.

Balls bounced and I reveled in the harsh smack of flesh against covered rubber. I touched the ball, then my hair. Its protruding frizz tangled with my fingers as I stepped up to serve. Hands sweaty, the ball slipped prematurely from my hold and the awkward lunge for the ball must have made it sorry enough for me that it decided to flub over the net.

I walked, not knowing if my feet moved the right way, and dodged balls falling like sweat-detecting meteors. I stood behind girls with long, smooth, columns of hair spilling from their heads and tan legs supporting the entirely too fitted bodies. I told myself the girls were older and that I didn't care. I'm getting good at lying to myself.

A whistle sounded. It shot a wonderful, narcotic relief into my system as girls parted ways to their mini camps cluttering the walls with brand name bags and friends handing out welcoming sports drinks. They all seemed to know each other. There must have been some national volleyball club meeting that I hadn't known about. Maybe they didn't have my e-mail.

Lingering gazes busied my hands with pulling at my shirt or retying my hair. I took a drink and the whistle hit my ears once more. I took my time, finishing my parallel sip to the other's and walking onto the court.

Groups. Great. I stood and waited, as if hoping for a volleyball cupid to spike a rubber sphere at one of those perfectly pruned heads. That didn't happen. I, instead, got a thorough dusting of pity powder, and a few blondes decided to allow me into their elite group.

I watched the first round; I wasn't stupid and knew when to accept being an outsider. They were good. Not too good, but good in the reliable way. If you wanted a point, giving them the ball would grant your wish. The ball always set up well for a spike that went over every time and encouragement poured from those made-up mouths. They won by two, well-earned points.

The next game involved me and I did all right. A flaming ball spiked over to our side; I blocked it with a natural instinct that I seemed to have only when I didn't care about it. I missed my first serve, but sent three over and won two points during the next try. We lost, when I couldn't reach a shooting spike. No one dived. Neither did I.


A thirty minute writing prompt from The Write Practice: 14 Prompts by Joe Bunting. Good, bad? I'm a beginner and would love to know what I should work on or flaunt. Thanks for reading.