I twist my bracelets through my fingers as I sit on the cool pavement outside the school. I know I should be listening to Davis talk but I can’t help but let my mind wander. He says something about staying positive and never giving up and everything rushes back to me. I hadn’t given it much thought since then but as I’m sitting there, something triggers my memory. It’s as if someone pulled my soul back into the past and I had to relive parts of my life. A cool breeze comes through the air and only makes things worse. As I think about the winter months, I slightly wince at the remembrance of the pain it had put me through. I start to shiver as the memory sends a chill down my spine. I try to distract myself by playing with the ties of my shoelace but nothing helps and I am soon sucked into the deep void of memories.
I’m riding in the backseat of my brother’s car, my tennis shoes still soaked and covered in snow, staring blankly out the window into the night. I feel a single tear roll down my cheek as my mind begins to replay the images once again. I think about this night’s practice and how I could vividly imagine myself at the bottom of the pool. It scared me but I felt like it would make my life so much easier to just not be there. I always feel like that now, everything I see molds itself into a murderous weapon that can be used in ways some people couldn’t bear to imagine. As I’m looking out the window, the moon comes out behind the clouds and sends a faint glow around the interior of the car. I look down and I see the scars of what had occurred last night. I forgot to put my bracelets on so there is nothing to cover it up except the light sleeves of my sweatshirt. My tears begin to fall faster as my mind replays horrifying images that I know will haunt me forever. At this point, I am sobbing in the backseat, trying to stifle the sounds of my tears so my brothers don’t get suspicious. They wouldn’t understand, nobody would. We finally pull up into our driveway and I rush as fast as I can inside. I quickly say hi to my mom and run upstairs to my room. I sit on the floor hugging my knees tightly to my chest as I gently rock myself back and forth trying to get the tears to stop. I tell myself that one day this is all going to change, soon there will be nothing to worry about anymore.
I stare at the bracelets wrapped around my fingers, trying to remember the better memories. I can feel myself gently tugging them up off my wrist to reveal what remains from the past winter. I force my eyes to look up and focus on what Davis is saying but I am too shook to listen to what he has to say. I notice my breath comes in quick, shallow gasps and I decide to focus on the four-square breathing I learned yesterday. It eventually calms me down and I feel much better about myself. I come back to reality just as Davis is finished talking. He tells us to go run and as soon as I feel that slight breeze through my hair and the sun in my eyes, I feel ten times better. I can feel my bracelets carefully bouncing up and down and slowly slipping around my wrist but it doesn’t bother me this time. It just reminds me of how much I love running and the people surrounding me on the trails.
As we’re running through the woods, the trees remind me of my favorite place in the whole world. I think about the trees of the woods at camp and I am soon transported to the town of Glen Arbor. We’re sitting on the smooth rocks outside of Cherry Republic helping each other tie on our newly bought bracelets. I’m holding my wrist out to let my friend tie the bracelet around me. As she ties it around me, I notice all the different noises of the town. The squeaky opening of the door and the laughter of my fellow cross country teammates catches my attention. As I look over at the rustic wooden building, I notice the trees in the background and the sun setting behind them. I think about running into the store to grab more free samples of the most amazing chocolate covered cherries. I must’ve had at least twenty of each flavor already. I feel the slight drop of my wrist as I notice the bracelet is finally tied around me. I smile and start to laugh for no apparent reason, I never want to leave this little town and our cabins in the woods. As we’re running, I can almost taste the cherries covered in a smooth layer of white chocolate, my favorite kind. When I get home, I spend the rest of the day looking at images of camp from last year until I can feel my eyes starting to slowly close. Sleep begins to overtake me and I am pushed into the world of dreams.
I wake up the next day and before I knew it, it was already first hour. Our teacher is late so I let my eyes wander around the room, searching for something to do. I look down and notice the three bracelets snuggly knotted around my left wrist. Slightly tucked under the dirty blue watch on my wrist as well. They are just loose enough to be able to smoothly slip off my hand but tight enough to stay on. The first one I look down and see is three pieces of braided green, white, and black yarn. The second is extremely faded from a year of wearing it everywhere, but it still retains shades of green, orange, and shades of blue. The third one is a dark and vibrant green, black, purple, and blue. I twist my wrist over and over as I notice all the little knots and ties of the string. I got my first bracelet a little over a year ago but it means so much to me and holds so many memories in the tiny little knots.
The school day finally comes to an end and I rush to the locker room, I can’t wait for today’s practice to begin. I pull my running shoes out of my bag and head out to the usual little alcove on the side of the school with my teammates. As I’m tying my shoelaces tightly onto my feet, I see Davis pulling up in his dark gray car along the side of the school. He hops outside onto the pavement and I notice he is wearing one of his cross country shirts and running shorts, indicating that he is going to run with us today. I look at the hat gently resting on his head and see that he shaved his beard again. He starts walking towards us in the small alcove of the school and I see the gleam in his dark brown eyes as he begins to laugh. All of our attention is now focused on him as he begins to explain what our run for the day will be. We all look at each other as we hear the words “four mile recovery run” and you can see smiles spread across everyone's faces. Davis notices and starts laughing again, his mouth twisting into a crooked smile once again. The gleam in his eyes never disappears, even as we begin our run towards the woods.
As you’re reading this, I hope you can remember all that we had to go through. The only thing that has never changed are the three bracelets still tied around my wrist. Some of them might be a little faded but I promise I will never get rid of them. They have been with me on the toughest runs, the happiest days, the never-ending sessions of counseling, and so much more. My bracelets have taught me that some things are worth remembering and some things you will never be able to get rid of. However, at the end of the day I must remember that they have helped shaped me into the person I am today and nothing will ever be able to change that.