Fast Fiction

“Runners to your marks!” The runner in the blue speedsuit beat out the runner in the red during the preliminary rounds. He is too legit to quit. He is taller than I remember, but I’ve been training, using wind resistance. “Get set!” Three thousand thirty-seven point zero one inches to thin white line. Breathe.

If I were in the stands, I would see the smoke rising from the barrel of the gun, well before we will hear it go off from the starting blocks. The speed of light travels close to three hundred million meters per second faster than the speed of sound. Silence is what we’re left with.

Two heads roll up directly to my left. At this point, they are ahead. I’ve never needed to be quick off the starting line; when I was a child, my father made certain I was passed the baton with a ten second lead. The closest runner to my right is weak. He finished point zero three seconds behind me in our preliminary, and I stumbled halfway through. This places me fourth at twenty meters out of the blocks. I’m still behind you and you and the runner in blue, we’ll call him a Carl Lewis with a Jheri curl. Breathe.

Thirty meters to fifty meters, I lift my head and glimpse the sun for the first time at full tilt. I have sweat in my eyes and it is cloudy, so it looks like The Starry Night in the day time. My heart beats congruent to the thump of my stride. I exhale to rid my thoughts from wistful memories of love’s false starts.

“Lift. Control your posture,” my coaches’ maxims. It is better to run tall than to fall short. Pick up the knees to stride. We are now well past the halfway mark. In these moments, I must remember to relax. My thin slack jaw in pendulum. My shoulder blades, and clavicle-coat-hanger disposition. Man was not meant to walk upright. It’s caused too many wars, too many historical back problems. Why is it that we run fastest as our time runs out?

I catch my second wind and continue to accelerate through the finish line. To not quit is to strive. Tell this to the not-so-legit “Hammer Time” who just Jheri curled his hamstring. Carl Lewis said, “The trials on the road to world harmony are no greater than the courage of those who accept the challenge.” Well I accept that challenge, and I do not expect to be defeated. World harmony is every breath we take after the finish line. Now breathe.