Fiction Friday: The Runner’s High

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As he bent down to kiss me, sweat trickled down his neck and dropped onto his white tee shirt, spreading like a stain.

I inhaled deeply, taking in the sweet mixture of his sweat, cologne and deodorant.

That familiar smell…it smelled like home. And just like that, he was off to finish the race.

 

He ran. I watched.

Is watching considered a sport? I often wondered. It was equally tiring, at the very least, just as time consuming.

I loved it.

Watching his long strides, catching his eye each time he rounded the corner near my spot in the grass at the curve in the track. I sat with my well-worn copy of Wuthering Heights under the shadiest tree in the field – it was more comfortable than sitting in the bleachers, under the full glare of the sun.

He shot me a quick smile and raced on.

I knew he’d win. He always won. I imagined his slow, steady breathing as he crept ahead of his opponents, his carefully timed inhale and exhale that he knew would regulate his heart rate and prevent him from tiring too quickly.

He used his body like a machine. Learning how to build muscle, optimize energy, get the best run times – he made winning look easy, but in reality, he worked hard at it.

 

I’d never understood the need – the desire – to run. That slow, deep burn in my calves, the sharp stab in my side – running had turned me off in the 7th grade, when I passed out from heat exhaustion in PE class after running laps in the August Miami sun.

So I watched. And afterward, I drove him home, with his newly acquired trophy in the backseat.

 

* * *

This week, we were asked to write about athleticism in under 400 words.

I know little about being an athlete because I am anything but! This was as far as my imagination got me.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. says

    Love it!

    Love the way you build the character of your narrator (obviously a dedicated and loving soul) without just telling us.

    “Wuthering Heights” is a winning detail!

  2. says

    I think it’s great.
    I’m sure that, for most athletes, moral support from a loved one means the difference between winning or losing. It’s good to go onto the field, knowing that there’s someone on the sidelines routing for you.

  3. says

    Great desciptions. I like the snark of the narrator. You did a really good job with the prompt. Athleticism was invled, and you people watched it like a gold medal winner.

    I liked it.

    • says

      I am so glad that you picked that up! A little piece of myself always leaks into my fiction, but I liked the way it came through, so I left it!

  4. says

    Good stuff! I’m right there with your character on the heat exhaustion in 7th grade – who knew that happened to so many of us (real and fictional)? There should be a club.

    My concrit? The very first paragraph, while it drew me in, doesn’t seem to really go with the rest of the piece. Your narrator surely couldn’t smell him from her vantage point under the tree? I assume she smelled him as kissed her and walked away to join the race? :-)

  5. says

    ‘Is watching considered a sport? I often wondered. It was equally tiring, at the very least, just as time consuming.’ It’s not just the watching, it’s the being supportive with every pore of your body.

    I see that in one of your comments you say that you’re not familiar with the subject but it really didn’t show. It had the feel of autobiography, pulled from experience.

    :)

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