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Disastrous Debut This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   The relentless rain crashes all around. Blurring myvision and freezing my exposed arms and legs, the droplets wreak havoc on thecompetitors and spectators. I jump once, twice, three times, attempting to thawmy frozen legs and send rich, warm blood through my numb toes. Shaking one armand then the other, I peer though the haze down the track and along the curve,spotting my teammate waiting 100 meters ahead. My heart races wildly, like thefingers of a prodigy pianist. I inhale a breath of icy air, trying to calm mynerves.

"Ladies, take your marks," the shivering announcercommands. I jump a few more times in a futile attempt to prepare my limbs forflight. Wishing my teammates from my school's other relay team on my left goodluck, I double-check the settings on my starting blocks and drop to my knees. Thepuddles quickly soak through my thin racing pants and seemingly weightless spikedshoes.

I back my left foot carefully into the block, followed by my right.My left knee rests on the ground, near my toes. My right thigh extends upward,nearly enclosed by my hunched back and shoulders. I cautiously place my shakingfingers at the edges of my lane on the starting line. My whole body begins toshiver in anticipation of the starting gun.

"Get set," theannouncer warns, raising his gun high overhead. I lift my left knee off theground, balancing precariously on the tips of my toes. Every part of my bodyleans forward, trying to get that inch of advantage. I shake uncontrollably andmy heart beats at an alarming rate. I stare ahead at the seemingly endless trackbefore me.

Bang. The gun sounds, signaling me to punch off the blocks withboth feet and pump my arms vigorously in an attempt to pick up speed. Glancing atmy competitors, I am overcome with excitement. The lead is mine.

Ahead,I spot the green and white uniform, signaling my teammate. My stomach drops as Irealize I am in the wrong lane. I see her ready to receive our baton, judging myspeed and distance, but she is two lanes to my left. I quickly compensate bycrossing the lane lines into the correct lane and speed closer.

As Iapproach she looks at me questioningly, and strains to see behind me. I near themark she has laid on the track with tape to signal when to begin running in orderto achieve a quick hand-off.

She remains motionless. I run closer andcloser and closer, yet she refuses to move. "Go!" I exclaim infrustration. My high speed makes it nearly impossible to slow down, so I continueon the disaster track toward my frightened teammate. I close my eyes and grit myteeth as I realize our inevitable collision. Thrusting my shoulder forward like adefensive football player, we crash into one another. I push past her rightshoulder, stumbling over the track.

She turns toward me and beginssprinting. "Why now?" I question, furious at her for waiting so long tobegin. Glancing into my assigned lane, I spot another green and white uniform. Mystomach plunges.

I immediately race in my real teammate's direction anddesperately lunge, thrusting the baton toward her hand. She grabs it and headsdown the next 100 meters of the course.

I sink to the track in humiliationand disbelief at my stupidity. I not only crossed over two lanes of the track -an illegal action that disqualifies a relay team - narrowly missing opposingrunners, but I tackled my teammate from our other relay team! Tears offrustration pour down my cheeks as I bury my head in my arms.




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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