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In Between a Rock and a Hard Place

My heart is racing, beating as fast as it can go; I hate pushing myself, but during my training it is nothing but necessary. I have been running for what feels like forever. I can barely breathe and I have an intense pain in my side. “It must be time for a break” I mutter to myself. I stopped at the corner of Palmetto and Cosey Beach, bending over gasping for air. It is so hot outside. While everyone is hanging out with friends and at the beach, I’m stuck running, preparing myself for my winter sport.

Everyday my routine is the same; I wake up make the healthiest of the nastiest breakfasts, and then run. I run for miles at a time. I feel like a modern day Forrest Gump. Sometimes I do get selfish and run by the beach, although…that’s when I realize what I’m missing and become a little bitter. I wish I could be with my friends sun tanning, and swimming; most of all meeting boys. I have never even had a real boyfriend before, I just feel like the weirdo in my school. Since it’s the summer going into my senior year it doesn’t bother me as much, I’m almost done.

I gain up the rest of the strength I have to finish my run. I’m about a quarter mile from my house so it shouldn’t be too bad. I sprint past the beach not glancing once; I’d rather not see anyone I know. I’m almost in the home free; I can see the last chain link to the beach fence and then I heard my name. “Emma” a familiar voice yells. I turn around to look still running and manage to run face first into a sign.

When my eyes opened I see my friend Cayley standing over me. I can tell she’s trying not to laugh, I see the stupid grin on her face.
“Are you okay?” Cayley said.
“Yeah, I’m fine; you scared me…that’s all.” I said unsurely hoping she wouldn’t know I was lying.
“I feel like I never see you anymore. Why don’t you come to the beach with us tomorrow?” said Cayley with a huge smile.
“I don’t know, I mean I have A LOT of training to do, and I don’t want to mess it up.”
“Training? Pfft, I’m sure you can miss one day of training, come out and have a little fun.” Cayley said with her tough girl attitude.
“I really shouldn’t, I mean who else would be going anyways…It’s not like anyone likes me.”
“Emma, it’s only going to be me, you, and a few boys. I would really like it of you’d come, I feel like you’re missing out on your entire summer.” Cayley said shaking me.
She’s trying to knock sense into me, but the only thing she appears to be doing is making me light headed. I stood there quietly for a second, contemplating my options. I really feel like she’s right.
“You know what? Alright, I will go with you tomorrow!” Immediately a smile rose to Cayley’s face.
“Okay I’ll come to your house at ten o’clock so we can get there early to get a good spot. And wear something cute, and pick your best bath suit! Ohh, don’t forget wear waterproof makeup!” I felt like Cayley could talk for hours. “Never mind, I’ll just come over at nine thirty, and help you myself!” She paused for a moment and smiled.
“Okay Cayley, sounds good. I’ll see you then!”
“Bye Emma, see you tomorrow!” The sound of her slowly fades away as I run the rest of the way down the road.

Finally, I’m home. As I walk in the door, I see my father standing there. His arms were crossed and he had a scowl on his face, he is obviously mad but I don’t know why.
“Where were you?!” he screamed at me.
“I was on my daily run?” I talked quietly, unsure of what his response would be.
“Oh yeah? Why did it take you so long?!”
“I ran into a stop sign and hit my head.” I moved away and put my arms behind my back because I knew the anger that was going to arise.
“A head injury?! What did I tell you about your head! I swear to God you’re so stupid, if you hit your head you won’t be able to participate in the cross country ski team. Your whole future is riding on this, and there you go, you’re going to screw it up. I can’t believe you.” He settles down for a moment just long enough for me to jump in.
“Dad, I’m sorry. Someone called my name when I was running. I turned my head, then wham. It’s not like I just ran into the sign just because.”
“Who called your name?! Was it a boy?!” He yelled again in anger.
“No dad; it was my friend Cayley. She wanted to see what I was doing tomorrow.”
“You’re busy.” He grunted, you have training to do.
“But dad, I told her I would go to the beach with her.”
“You’re not.” He walked to the front door and slammed it shut. “I’ll be upstairs. Go lift your weights in the basement.”
“Alright.” I said sadly. I was really looking forward to be a normal teenager for once, but with my dad; that’ll never happen.

The next morning I woke up with about fifteen new messages to my phone, all of them are from Cayley. All of them said are you awake yet, and it’s not even eight o’clock. I think I’m going to wait a little while; I don’t want her to be mad I’m ruining her entire day. I did make a promise to her, and I still really want to hang out with her. But I don’t want to make my dad mad.

I texted Cayley back, I’ll see you at nine thirty. Well that’s in forty minutes so maybe I better eat and get in the shower. When I got out of the shower I walk in my room and Cayley is sitting on my bed.
“Hey!” she screamed.
“Hi? How’d you get in my house?”
“Oh I found a key, it was hidden under that rock” She giggled and jumped backwards flinging herself onto the middle of my newly made bed.
“So, my closet is over there. You can go pick anything.” I was kind of unsure about that decision considering her wardrobe isn’t very conservative. But since we are meeting boys, oh well.
“Yay!” She ran over to my closet flinging clothes everywhere.
“So what boys are coming with us exactly?”
“They aren’t just boys; they are the cutest boys in the entire school!” She screeched.
“Dylan Hooper and Mason Higgins are going with us?!”
“Yes! Aren’t you excited?!” She screamed again.
“Oh my God, Yes!” A smile overcame my face; I have had to biggest crush on Mason Higgins since the fourth grade.
“And guess what I found out?” Cayley said in her sassy voice.
“What?” I questionably asked.
“I heard from Dylan, Mason likes you!”
I stood there frozen; smiling knowing the cutest boy in school liked me. I couldn’t speak, I could barely breathe. So I just screamed. Then Cayley started to scream with me. I felt so weird screaming, but I have never been so happy; before I knew it I was jumping around my room. Then all of a sudden my door flung open and the happiness was gone, and it was completely silent. My father was standing in the doorway with that oh so familiar look; arms crossed and face looking like he had just licked a lemon.
“Why are you screaming?” He said in a cold monotone voice.
“We saw a spider.” Cayley jumped in and said.
“And the jumping?” His voice was even colder than before.
“We were trying to kill it.” I added in.
“Emma, you need to go on your run; so good-bye Cayley.”
“What?” Cayley questioned.
“No, Cay it’s alright. Let me just get me just get my things and we’ll go.”
“You’re not going anywhere unless it’s on your run.” My father added in.
“Dad, I’m going to the beach with Cayley. I promised her.” I said in a firm voice.
“NO, YOU’RE GOING ON YOUR RUN!” He screamed back.
“DAD, I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE. ALL I EVER DO IS GO ON RUNS AND EXERCISE; I DON’T HAVE A LIFE, AND WHEN SOMEONE ACTUALLY ASKS ME TO HANG OUT FOR THE FIRST TIME YOU SAY NO? I’M GOING. I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE STUPID SKI TEAM! I’M A SMART GIRL I CAN WALK INTO ANY COLLEGE I WANT WITH THE GRADES I HAVE. I JUST WISH YOU WOULDN’T LOOK PAST IT! I’M DONE DOING THIS FOR YOU. IT DOESN’T MAKE ME HAPPY. JUST BECAUSE YOU FAILED AS AN OLYMPIC ATHELETE DOESN’T MEAN YOU NEED TO MAKE ME BE ONE. FOR GOD’S SAKE I WANT TO BE A CHEF.”
My father stood there in silence. I feel he was just as awestruck as I was that, that even came out of my mouth. “I’m leaving.” I grabbed my things and gestured Cayley to go. We walked out of the room past my dad, still standing in the same spot, staring straight forward. I still can’t tell if he’s mad or confused; so I just left.

When Cayley and I reached the beach we had nothing but fun. We swam all day and talked to Dylan and Mason. The day was just as I thought it would be, perfect. The events from earlier that day didn’t even cross my mind. We had such fun all day we didn’t even realize it was getting late out, the sun was going down and the air was becoming chilly. So I began my walk home. As I started my walk, Mason ran up from behind me and said he’d walk too; he wanted to make sure I got home okay.
“So how come I never see you around?” he said with a little grin on his face.
“Well, I was always training.”
“For what, Olympics? He giggled.
“No” I chuckled. “I was on a cross country ski team, but not anymore.”
“Oh, why not? That seems cool!”
“I wasn’t really into it; it was such a commitment and I feel like I was missing out on a lot.”
“Well that’s understandable; I’d want to see my friends too, and my girlfriend.”
My heart sank a little. “Oh, so you have a girlfriend...”
“Well I’d hope so.”
I just looked up at him, and gave him a blank stare.
“Do I know her?”
“Yes, very well actually.”
We walked up to my front door, and I gave him back his sweatshirt. We stood there awkwardly for a moment, and then he kissed me. I was in such shock; I couldn’t even believe it was happening. So I just went with it.
“Wait! Wont your girlfriend get mad?!” I snapped.
“She can’t get mad if it’s you.” He stood there and smiled and waited for my response.
“If you’re asking, then yes.” He kissed me one more time then he walked away, smiling with his hands in his pockets. I felt wait less, standing on my front porch like a dork. “I’ll see you tomorrow” he yelled. “Okay!” I giggled. I felt like nothing could be better, and then the door opened.
“Who was that?” My dad asked.
“My boyfriend...”I said in a quivering voice.
“Oh, well he seems like a nice boy.” He said opening the door gesturing me inside. I walked past him scared of what was to come. Why was he being so nice? “Please sit down dear, we need to have a talk.” I sat down on the couch ready to be chewed out. “Emma, I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I’ve ever made you feel like you NEED to be on the ski team. I swear I was only doing it for you; I wanted you to have a better quality of life. I just didn’t want you to have financial troubles when you got older, like me and your mother when we first got married. It was really selfish of me, and when you said I was living my life through you; well I guess I kind of was. And I’m sorry, Emma. And you don’t have to be on the ski team if you don’t want to. Can you forgive me?”
I sat there for about a minute; I couldn’t comprehend on why he was apologizing. Only thing I could think is am I dreaming and this is a first.
“Of course I will dad.” I smiled and gave him a hug.
I still can’t imagine what made him come around. Was it the fact that he saw how unhappy I was not being a part of what my friends were doing? Or could it be because I finally stood up to him? I still don’t know but I think things will be better from here on out. I walked out of the living room, and went to my room; I wanted to call Cayley and tell her what just happened, but the urge to go back downstairs arose. When I walked down stairs I saw my father staring at on old photo album. He was looking at pictures of me and my mother.
“Dad?” I quietly squeaked.
“Yes, Emma?” he said quietly.
I walked father into the living room. “I hope I didn’t disappoint you...”
He stood and put the book on the coffee table. “Now listen here, Emma. You can never disappoint me. I have never been and never will be. Today was but a bump in the road for us, but it was the proudest day of my life. You stood up for what you knew was right and what you wanted and that means more than any ski team.”
I stood in the middle of the room, dumbfounded. I had never heard such wonderful things come out of his mouth, other than when I came in for in the ski relay. “Thanks dad. That really means a lot.”
“Now Emma, It’s only six o’clock; you can’t sit here and tell me you really want to sit home with your dad all night? If you did I’d call you a bold faced liar. Go have fun with your friends, your only young once.”
“Really! Okay thank you!” I yelled running up the stairs.
I ran to my room and grabbed my phone. The first person I called was Cayley. We made plans to go to a late movie, and of course I called my boyfriend, ahh I love the word boyfriend. Has a wonderful ring to it. All four of us are going to go. As I sat there and put make up on, and listened to Cayley blab about how she was so excited and liked Dylan; I couldn’t help but think about my mom. I felt like my life changed so much without her; and her telling my father not to pressure athletics, and her there to teach me how to do my hair in braids. I felt it kind of sucked. But now? It has gotten so much better; all I needed was to talk to my father. So now, I can be a kid again.



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