Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dash

Greetings to my normal (really?) readers who are staring at this page, wondering what all these words are about. Sensing a lack of snark, my readers should not be alarmed. I am competing in a Flash Fiction challenge over at DudeWrite. The idea is to write a story in under 500 words using a starting sentence given as part of the challenge. Please consider browsing over there and checking out some equally good posts from other writers, who happen to be dudes.

If you'd told me two weeks ago that I'd be standing here on the blocks today, I would not have believed it, especially after what has transpired this week.

I was the fastest in a dirt poor tiny nation. Standing here for some is an expected outcome, but for me, shortage of funds should have caused me to miss out completely. Travel budgets normally have me travelling by bus, camel, or donkey depending upon the location. A miracle donation had come in for a teammate from relatives in the states and his generosity provided for a few others to join him and I was among those chosen.

With random drug testing removing three of the four best qualifiers, I am sad that they will miss out on the opportunity despite their misfortune being my gain. Part of me wonders if I could have hung in with the best, or whether I'd wither with competition. Another part of me wonders if this race day will be remembered more for its absences than its competitors.

As if that wasn't lucky for me, two more competitors were disqualified for false starts in preliminary heats. As I stand here preparing for the longest 10 seconds of my life, facing 7 of the fastest human beings on the planet, I'm stricken by the colors of all the flags in the stadium on this night. So many nations represented in those colors, while a mere 8 stand on the track.

I am again feeling the fates' fortunes as I prepare to toe in to lane three, my lucky lane. Having the third fastest qualifying time would normally put me near the center of the track and I'm happy with the location.

While my fiercest competitors have been assigned lanes five and six, this will separate me from them by one other competitor. Time, and a short one, will determine if that will be an advantage or disadvantage. I mustn't take any other runner for granted as one misstep can be the difference between first and eighth.

I begin my pre-race ritual.

silent prayer

...envision the start

......set the hands

.........shake the left leg and set

............shake the right and set knee down to wipe the hands

..................look to the sky

.....................set the hands once more silence

With the starter's gun, the silence is shattered, my heart races. Accelerating, I blink and the tape is within reach. As the tape falls, the hopes of 5 competitors fall with it. From my vantage point, it is simply too close to call.

Anthems play, flags wave and mothers' tears moisten the ground. Possibly some of mine as well. As the music plays, I feel fortunate, melancholy, proud.

Dude Write


  1. Good entry, do you guys know of an Australian athlete called Steven Bradbury?

    He won Australia's first ever gold medal at the winter olympics in the speed skating. He was getting slaughtered in the race, and then near the end there was a crash and all of the competitors in front of him were taken out, when he crossed the line in first you could see him mouth the words "What the f**k...?"

  2. Hadn't heard of him by name, but seem to recall the incident.

  3. As soon as I saw the name Steven Bradbury I remember the incident but then I am a proud Aussie...........

  4. What a great post loved the story you did well my friend........

  5. Lovely story BUT is anyone going to ask where you placed or did i miss a hidden meaning because I'm reading while working.
    IT COULD HAPPEN!!!! hehe

  6. Glad you all could have a moment...

  7. Thanks Jo-Anne. Be sure to click our link for the competition periodically to see what others did with the sentence.

  8. It is fiction Sheila, I only wish I could be in the dash.

    But part of the Flash Fiction concept is to leave something to the imagination... What do you think happened?

  9. Great post, I liked how you've textually punctuated the two different time flow speeds. The slow passing of time during the silent preparation/visualisation and then the sudden acceleration and race, all over in a moment.

  10. Thanks. It was tough, I wanted to add spaces, but blogger wouldn't let me.

  11. Nice one Scott. If I recall, you were a runner in school. I bet this brought back a lot of great memories for you. Well done!

    Michael A. Walker
    Defying Procrastination

  12. Thanks Michael. I am enjoying this. I've written longer fiction, so this is a challenge.

  13. This really gives us a point of view from the runner's perspective. Nice job!

  14. Wow. Great story! I could picture myself in the runner's shoes (a slightly more fit version of me, anyway). I like the description of the runner looking over the nations' flags. Awesome submission!

    P.S. I like how the sentences stretch in the formation of the starting line (if that was in fact what you were going for).

  15. I was going for something like that. a slow motion look at preparation. (blogger made it insanely difficult as well)

    Thanks for the props.




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