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Sunset Running This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I met him when I went running for the first time, about a year ago. It was winter, but the sky was clear and bright as I ran along the sea wall. There were plenty of other runners. Some were in pairs or even groups, but the only sound was the traffic and the gulls and the rhythmic waves.

I had just arrived, and I was unsure of what to do, so I lingered with my hands on the wall watching the sun go down. To the left, a young man sat on a peeling green bench, slowly lacing up his sneakers – procrastinating like me, it seemed. Then he stood up and began to run. That was when I stopped watching him subtly out of the corner of my eye and turned to face his receding form, staring.

His movement was so awkward that it was painful to watch. He lurched forward like a startled colt (but without any of the natural elegance) and carried on cantering, with stiff legs. Other runners turned to look too, their mouths slightly agape. An old couple walking their dog stopped talking to watch, eyes wide. I even noticed the people's heads in cars turn in his direction.

The young man didn't slow, but staggered on in his sideways gait. I turned away and began running in the opposite direction, a fierce blush burning my cheeks. I felt humiliated for him.

I saw him every night, always at sunset, and I did my best not to stare, as others did. As my running became stronger, his seemed to weaken and become even more pained. Several times I caught him bent over his shoelaces with tears in his eyes. Whether they were from embarrassment or pain, I couldn't tell.

Everything changed that spring. Though it was May, the sea was churning and the rain was swept sideways by the wind, freezing my fingers and cheeks. I had just finished my circuit and sat proudly with my legs dangling over the sea wall, breathing deeply. The young man collapsed onto a bench nearby, grimacing, with his legs stretched out in front of him. As is the way with wet tracksuits, his had ridden up so I could see his socks. Sock, I corrected myself. He was only wearing one. He didn't need one on the other foot; metal isn't affected by the cold.

I couldn't stop my tears from forming, and my fists clenched in helpless shock. He caught me looking and I smiled encouragingly, hoping the rain would disguise my sadness.

“Hi,” I said, before I realized what I was doing.

“Hi,” he replied. Noticing my shivering, he said, “We should run in the morning.” He turned his face skyward and let the rain fall on it. “Maybe it wouldn't be so cold.”

“We should,” I agreed. He looked back at me as he slowly got up. Then he squared his shoulders and began running again.

The next day, I ran as the sun was rising, instead of setting. I'm not sure why I did this, but I just did. I think about this decision a lot because it makes me question fate, which until then I'd never given a second thought to. But this is not about me, it's about him.

I didn't expect him to be there, but he was, and I caught up with him halfway through my route. We fell into step and he smiled, pleasantly surprised. We didn't say anything. In fact, we rarely say anything, even though we run together almost every day now.

People still stare at him, unabashed by their rudeness – which infuriates me – but he never says a word. He just puts his head down and keeps on going. He is getting better, though he has good days and bad days. Sometimes he can't manage more than a few hundred yards. Those are the days when tears of shame come into his eyes and there is nothing I can do to help. But sometimes he runs for miles and miles with me.

His name is David.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 21 comments. Post your own now!

emattox said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 11:32 am
Love, love, love, love, love!
 
dm1723 said...
Oct. 23, 2011 at 9:37 am
Beautiful. Made my day. Running stories are my favourite. Im trying to write one. But nothing seems to work. I could use some tips. Thanks. Once again beautiful!!!!!!!!!
 
mimirocks124 said...
Aug. 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm
i love this piece! its relly heartwarming. keep up the gud work!
 
dolphin13 said...
Aug. 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm
Your writing just goes to show that we should not judge others. I love it! Keep on writing!
 
rosykatnip97 said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 5:47 pm
this is good, but there isn't an explination to why he was in pain so much. you should explain that int eh story so it would make more sense.
 
Berry This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 20, 2010 at 9:04 am

Hiya,  I guess I kind of thought that it'd be self-explanatory seeing as he had had his leg amputated...

But thanks for your comment, all critism is useful!

 
dia.dreamer replied...
Sept. 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm
you didn't need to show why he was in pain. It was obvious and that makes it more heartwarming, for some reason. LOVED this. Your writing is just awesome. keep doing it. never stop. :) and check out my work too :)
 
reenay_95 said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 10:10 am
This was sooo good. It was very touching. I like the way you revealed that he had a metal leg-subtle, but still there.
 
FutureAuthor12 said...
Sept. 22, 2010 at 9:20 pm
Like most authors on TeenInk, you have a great talent for writing! But by far, this is literally the greatest piece of writing I've read in my entire life! (:
 
banna42 said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm
that was awesomeee!
 
Chloe27 said...
Jun. 4, 2010 at 11:01 am
Really great and surprise twist there.
 
thewriteidea This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm
Oh my God...this is so touching. I literally feel different now reading it. I had no idea it would turn out like that. Very impressive work.
 
E.LeeXxX3 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 30, 2010 at 9:54 am
this is so amazing! i love it. good work
 
kjafdslk said...
Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:58 am
I love this! It's so sad how the guy was made fun of. Excellent detail!
 
wildflowers said...
Dec. 10, 2009 at 8:09 pm
Wow. Love the way you weave simply words together and end up with this masterpiece.
Such a great piece!
 
luvtwilight said...
Nov. 24, 2009 at 8:20 am
This story was wonderfully written. It was very inspiring and I loved reading it. Good job!
 
Rebecca24 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm
You know those moments when your heart just kind of stops for a second? When you watch a touching movie, or when you see something extraordinary? That just happened to me. This story is incredible. So subtle. So perceptive. So moving. Your insight is so rare, and so needed in this world. Congratulations for such a beautiful piece!
 
soccercrazy replied...
Dec. 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm
rebecca just voiced my exact opinion and feeling when i read your article. i love it. you're a genius.
 
SH333This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Dec. 4 at 12:07 am
completely agree with rebecca. this is so amazing and wonderful to read. lm thrilled when I find such great stuff on here. you did great!
 
Daimon, Demon said...
Nov. 10, 2009 at 7:35 pm
Anna, love. I am wholeheartedly applauding your writing in this moment. The style was smooth, collaberative-your description was creative- and it was sweet, thoughtful, and beautiful. I love the ending- that splendid beginning. You ought to read "Opulence" and "A wish for her", if you'd like to hear of Darian-that cold, unfeeling boy. A beautiful, rose-tinted sunrise from an American, good luck with your writing. -Daimon
 
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