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The Finish Line MAG
Molly knew as she raced toward the finish line that she would not do as well as she hoped. It was a brisk fall day, and the leaves were so crisp and brittle that you could hear them snapping off their branches in the cool breeze. Cross-country was Molly's favorite sport, but just once she wanted to come in first. It was a desire that she had deep inside. No one would understand, she kept telling herself. Click! She clocked in at 15:06. To win, she knew she'd have to finish the two miles faster than that.
Molly lived with her mother, who spent most of her time at work. When her mother was home, the distant, faraway look in her eyes showed Molly just how tired she was. Molly had once lived with her father also, but his death from leukemia caused their separation. She had always felt something missing after her father's death, but she never showed it. Some said that "Molly never learned to cry," because she had always been so courageous. Molly's father did leave something behind for her ... his love of running. Molly devoted herself to running, and soon saw it as a way she could let out her feelings.
Molly's next race was in a week. It was her final meet. Molly's coach wanted the team to do well, even come in first, a feat never before accomplished by their school. The coach had his eye on Molly. The past few weeks she had shown much improvement. Molly understood he was watching her like a hawk, and she was glad of his attention, but she knew she wouldn't feel like running the race. It would be October 25th, exactly a year after her father's death.
Molly woke up the day of the meet, feeling tense. She was resolved to run with her team. It was a chilly morning, and frost had blanketed the earth with a lacy, white ice. Molly hardly wanted to get out of her toasty, warm bed. Reluctantly, she threw on her uniform and tightly tied her sneakers. Ten minutes later, Molly was in the car with her mother, thinking over her strategy, during the lengthy drive to Durham.
One hour later Molly stood with her team, stretching her legs and arms. She was sweating, although the race had not begun yet, and Ember told her she looked like a ghost.
One of the coachess signaled them to get ready, "Runners set ... GO!" The race had begun, and Molly was running so fast she thought she was going to take off like an airplane. Molly was leading when she hit the half-mile point.
"I've got to slow down," she panted to herself, but the memory of her father kept her going. Molly suddenly got visions of her father that last dreadful day before his death. He was lying there, pale and weak. As Molly sat down and took his hand, he smiled for an instant, then it slowly faded. "Molly, when ... if I die, please take care of your mother."
One mile. The next vision was Molly standing beside her father's bed, next to her mother. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Foster. He's gone."
"No ... he's too young. Molly needs him," her mother whispered.
One and a half miles. The burial. People sobbing, wailing, and weeping.
Molly was silent as she stood by watching. "We are here today to remember ... " Molly was almost there. 100 meters from the finish line, she began sprinting hard, tears forming in her eyes. She hit the finish line and collapsed, overwhelmed with joy and grief. She did it! She had come in first! Molly slowly picked herself up and walked over to her mother. Molly embraced her and clung to her like a small child. She had finally made it to the finish line. 1