The consolation prize is nice to have. It’s comforting and acknowledging. Usually a gentle reminder of nearly rememberable adequacy, a moment of not-quite.
It doesn’t have the shine of a trophy; it never glitters in the sunlight and lacks the gleam of expense. It never feels like the softest silk of a blue ribbon. It certainly isn’t awarded on a podium – more often given in privacy, or sent in a box to a form-filled address.
It comes in many forms: a teddy bear with lacklustre fur, filled with cheap stuffing that falls from poorly formed stitches; a certificate with curling edges and smudged ink; or a gift voucher for a nameless store with nothing of worth. Consolation prizes are received with a slumping smile, held limply between fingers… often left behind or dropped, forgotten at the finish line or thrown out with the week’s rubbish.
I am the consolation prize. I will never be the trophy, never be blue-ribbon quality. I am poorly stitched and your name is misprinted on my surface. I am the blanket worn thin by continual almosts and the never-a-chance.
I am the consolation prize: left behind, alone, and unwanted in the gutter.