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On The Line: Inside The Runner This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Runners, take your mark ... Ready ... Set ..." A gun shot cuts through the cool, crisp air. The race has begun. What are their times? Why am I sprinting already? Two laps. Stay in the lead. Who is back there? Blue ribbon. Faster. Harder. No, not yet. Arms and legs. Focus. Concentration. The clock is running. Clock, slow down!

"Dear God ... Make me a bird, so I can fly far ..."

Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. 1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2, 3, 4. Is he here? Thunder thighs. The crowd is cheering. It is all a blur. Footsteps coming closer ... closer now ... she's on my trail. Pressure's on. The bell rings - one more lap. Pick it up ... NOW! High knees. On my toes. Smooth motion, rhythm, form. She passes. Defeat? No, not that easy. Challenge her. I think I can. I think I can. This is my race. Reputation. Stay with her. Relax. I'm almost there. Half a lap. It's time. Kick it in. Close the gap. Side by side now. Both determined. Who wants it more? Running on nothing. Am I moving? Can't feel my legs inching forward. She comes with me. Don't give up. Fight till the end. Must win. Suddenly I hear a voice. The deep voice of my father penetrates through the crowd, "TAKE OFF!!" His voice fuels me. Burning. Pain. I slip by. Within feet of the finish line. Keep going. I'm almost there. I hear her breathing at my back. Creeping closer. Push it. The crowd roars. Tension in the air. One more stride.

Step ...

Lean ...

Cross the line.

I did it! Deep breath. No air. Can't breathe. Glory. Pain. Victory. Suffering, I won. Distress. Not good enough. Faster. Next time. On the line. I'll be ready. l


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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