Monday, October 10, 2011

another installment

Okay so it was fun starting that little story yesterday. It got ME curious about what could happen next. So I added some more. I put yesterday's words in small font so if you already read that, skip ahead. The new stuff is normal size. 

Please know that I'm totally pulling this out of my ass as I go. I hope I could come up with something more refined or more intelligent or more....I don't know...layered? if I spent more time on it. But maybe I really couldn't. I have yet to find out. Anyway, I don't have gobs of time to spend figuring out something stellar, so I figure I might as well put something down. It's fun, if nothing else. And that's what this is all about. 

Okay so, back to the story.


At dinner my mom hands me a foil package and says nothing but

it's from annie.

I roll my eyes and unwrap it, cringing even before I see the lump of bread I know is inside. This time it's brownish grey and speckled with darker dots. I don't even want to know what it's really made of. I close the foil back up.

maybe you shouldn't throw it away
she says.

what, eat it? this?
My gag reflex kicks in at the very thought. But there's something in her voice that makes me stop. Not really a tone but a catch in her words that I've grown up with and learned to love and to hate and it means that whatever she's saying is probably right. I hate being wrong.

But I peel back the foil again and give it a timid sniff. It makes me think about

sweat and grass and tears and puke and so much sun

What the hell. I shove half of it in my mouth -- it's only the size of a small roll. The taste doesn't hit me until I swallow. It's weird. Not bad, just...weird. Like not really a taste at all but a clenching of all my taste buds into a single point at the center of my tongue. I eat the other half as I walk up the stairs to my room.

Then it's homework and bed and a whole school day. None of that matters. It's what happens next that completely changes my life. 


I'm at the starting line. This is it.

The. Big. Deal.

I'm running in the sectional cross country meet, the race that will either advance me to State or will simply be my last. Even though I'm pretty good, I've never gone to the Big Meet. It's always something -- an injury, a cramp, or more likely, just a bad day. But this is my last chance. Senior year. Now or never.

When the gun goes off I take off fast. Too fast, probably. Everyone falls from my periphery except the girl in front of me. Her shoes become my shoes and I don't think but just move move move move.

I'm not even a half mile in when I start to feel it. The weird clenching of across the plane of my tongue. It feels familiar but my head is already in a fog and I can't place it. But it's louder an any other sensation in my body so I hang on to it. I am my tongue. I am those shoes. I think maybe this what happens when you run faster than you really can. You start to go crazy, at least a little bit.

But crazy or not, I run fast. It's not that I don't feel anything -- my lungs are fireworks and my legs sop up lactic acid like literal sponges -- but I feel my body and mind occupying two separate spaces. My legs and my lungs are somewhere miles below me.

I don't win the race. The Shoes in Front of Me take off in the last half mile and there's no way I can go with that girl. I'm passed by another runner ten yards from the finish. But I take third. And that means I'm going to State.

Mom hugs me at the finish like it's the first time she's ever seen me.


You're probably thinking this is a running story now. That the thing that changes my life is the race. That I go off to State and place well and end up going to college on a scholarship running for a division one team.

But no, that's that's not it at all. I'll tell you now that I take one hundred and forty second place at the State Meet, with a time significantly slower than what I did at sectionals. State is completely forgettable. It's what happens when snow starts to fly that is worth telling you.


I'm going to die soon, you know.

It's Annie. Her voice sounds compressed. Snow muffled. Like we're both standing in a narrow box. She's in the doorway, speaking through the screen door.

I'm shoveling her driveway in this mid-December dusk. Mom asked me to come out here and get this done and I didn't say no because otherwise Dad will do it and he won't be home until I've already been tucked into my homework for several hours and I know he'll be a lot tireder than I am right now. It will be colder and blacker by then, to. Now, in the little light left from the day, streetlights make the air glow purple and create a back light for the slow falling snow flakes. It feels weird out here. But in a good way.

I can count on my left hand the number of times I've heard Annie speak and this is one of them. She's usually just a face in the front window. Wrinkled. Watching.

I look at her but don't respond to her statement. It settles around my feet without melting and I take a couple steps toward her door. She speaks again while I'm in motion.

You will learn about the bread.

It's not a question. I still don't say anything but just let the shovel fall in the snowdrift and climb the three steps onto her front stoop. She opens the screen and I go inside, my breath still steaming. 


uhhhh, that's all I got. More tomorrow? Or another day...