An excerpt from

India's Summer

The crowd was howling her name.

 

“In-di-a!”

 

“In-di-a!”

She was vaguely aware of an arm. Yes, it was definitely an arm. She could feel it steadying her, pushing her toward the searing heat. Then came the pounding beat of a medieval drum. She took a deep breath, a very deep breath. There was this weird tingling between her legs. And she was dizzy. Oh my God! The adrenaline. Like swallowing a Molotov cocktail.

 

I can’t do this. I can’t do this, she thought.

 

Yes you can! YES! YES! shouted another inner voice. Focus … Focus.

What is it you really want? Think.

So she thought: tall, fit, rich, funny, a cross between Orlando Bloom and Hugh Jackman…

“Don’t look down! Don’t look down!”

 

Then she heard another voice. “What’s your name?”

“India.”

 

“Are you ready?”

“Yes!” she yelled.

 

“Louder, I can’t hear you.”

“YES!” she screamed.

 

She was burning up. She was on fire.

Suddenly, as her feet were plunged in a bucket of ice-cold water, she was clinging to a volunteer like a koala on a gum tree. She had made it. And one by one, every member of her team charged across the bed of burning hot coals into the arms of other volunteers. And within minutes, it was over. Weeks and weeks of planning, and it was over.

For one brief moment she stood there: the very image of everything she wanted to be – a valedictorian, a woman in control of her destiny; her olive skin glowing, her dark eyes shining with intensity, her chestnut hair piled high on her head. Then, overwhelmed with emotion, India started leaping up and down, sobbing, hugging all the kids around her, and waving triumphantly at the cameras.

“We did it! We did it,” she cried, rivulets of mascara streaking her cheeks, sweat pouring down her long arms. “Amazing, unbelievable, and I am never, I repeat, never, doing that again!”