THE RUNNER by Paul M Clark
I focus. My head, my eyes, all linked. The noise shrinks to a whisper until I hear my heart. I close my eyes. Head full of the past. Always.
I loved the route. Along the boardwalk, the Pacific Ocean a sheet of cobalt with the light of a diamond ricocheting off its surface. From the Mount I could see the views over the whole bay – yellows into whites into blues. The odd early morning surfer. The smell of salt in the air. A familiar sweetness.
I jolt back to myself and I grip the cold metal with my gloved hands. Deep breaths. Need the air now. The gun is loud and sudden. It jolts the crowd into a frenzy. I can hear them now and it fills me with strength and power and will.
I heave on the metal. Push harder. My arms become pistons driving me forwards. Eyes fixed ahead. My mind wanders back again.
I ran across the road and I didn’t even see it. So focused on the space ahead. The breath left my body like a balloon let go at a party. No pain though. Just a numbness in my body. Everywhere. Screams. Voices. Reassuring tones. You know you’re in trouble when strangers want to know your first name. But no movement.
“…never walk again…” Was all I heard from the doctor. But his words were far less cutting than my parents’ faces.
Eyes ahead. Deep breaths. Pumping the metal. The wind brushes my face as I pick up speed. Serious speed. I was made for this. I hunch forward to reduce the wind resistance. My wheelchair is flying. The crowd deafening. I look to the side. I am a good length in front as I cross the line. One long breath. I was made for this.
I will always run.