Racing Hearts Go!

Entry by: Cara

13th February 2015
I am sixteen and at the starting line, shivering against the late October chill. My red and white cross country uniform is a single stitch within the tapestry of runners draped across the field. We are packed so closely that I can feel the heat of my teammates behind me. Without turning to look, I know where they are, and maybe this is part of what it means to be a member of a team.

I am sixteen, and at the starting line, scanning the crowd for a particular set of eyes, a distinctly choreographed gait. I am in love with a boy who is more elusive than alchemy. Like me, his feet are on fire. Like me, he feels alive when he runs in the solitude of a pre-dawn summer morning. That he understands this about me seems like a luxury, but he is not as free with his heart as I am with mine. The race looms larger with every passing moment. With every passing moment, my expectations dwindle, and yet, suddenly, he is lifting me off the grass, and embrace of cool skin and slippery nylon uniforms. This good luck ritual is nothing like a promise of anything real. It's just an acknowledgment that something in him recognizes something in me. It's what I make do with.

I am sixteen and at the starting line. The race official raises the starter pistol like a mailbox flag, and I become the race. There's no room for anything else. We are all of us poised with the tension of coiled energy, ready to spring from the chalked line, guarding against false starts. I have never been more conscious of the topography of the ground, as I feel it through my running flats. I understand what unites me with every other girl on this starting line, with the amber-eyed boy and his loping gait, with the spectators on the sidelines. We are incendiary. We have racing hearts. The starter pistol cracks the silence, and we go.