In response to Linda G Hill’s stream of consciousness prompt Almost
Sarah hated the word “almost”.
Who wouldn’t really?
Almost tasted of failure.
Ever since she was a kid she loathed the word. She was never so angered than when a teacher said she’d almost got an A+ but only had an A.
She could have skinned her PE teacher when he said she’d almost made the A team in volley ball.
Almost was not enough. Never. What athlete would feel excitement at ‘almost’ making the final? Who ever remembered the silver or bronze medalist at the Olympic Games? They’d almost won the gold. But they went forgotten in people’s memory.
“Tell me can you remember who finished third in the 100 meter run of the London Olympic in 2012? I’m sure sure you don’t. I know I don’t either.” She once said to her boyfriend.
Nothing grated her nerves more than the so-called encouraging “you’re almost there.” That meant she hadn’t reached it yet.
No! Almost was never enough. Almost was a failure.
When someone said “I almost got the job”, you could be certain “but someone else got it” would come afterwards, meaning the person speaking didn’t get the job.
When someone said that “they’d almost made it to the top of the hill” it meant they stopped before they reached it.
Her favourite was when someone said “I almost won the lottery; I lost by X numbers.” Yes, you lost.
Almost was a loser’s word. She hated that word.
So that day, when her friend Mary told Sarah she’d almost won the prize. That she’d looked at the result and that Sarah had come a close second by only 2 points, she lost it.
“Are you kidding me?” She yelled.
“What? It’s ok Sarah. Second is ok.”
“Second isn’t ok. Almost making it to the top isn’t making it to the top.”
“No. Stop it, don’t try. I don’t want to hear it. Almost. Always almost. I am tired of almost. For once I want to make it, not almost make it.”
“It was a tight.”
“I don’t care. You don’t understand. I can’t stand “almost” anymore. I almost got signed. I almost won that Literary Prize. I almost… almost. I almost think it’s not worthy.”
“Sarah don’t be stupid. Of course it’s worthy. It’s your second book.”
“Yes… and it’s almost good enough.”
“You’re too hard on yourself. You can’t expect to win against someone who’s got 10 books under their belt and already won the Goncourt once.”
“Of course I should. I should aim to be the best. Not the second best. Being good isn’t good enough. Almost isn’t good enough. Almost gets Navy Seal killed in action. Almost gets a man in surgery die instead of survive. Almost means that we wouldn’t have any human rights. Because training would almost be too demanding, because the surgeon almost saved his patient. Because the French almost had a revolution. Almost sucks!”
Marie was so shocked she couldn’t say a word. She might have understood Sarah’s frustration but more likely she didn’t. So many people were satisfied with almost. She couldn’t; every time someone said she was good, her book was good, she kept thinking about that song “Being good isn’t good enough.”
Almost: a lesson in failure. But there were lessons to be learned in failures. She knew that; that’s why she never stopped aiming high.