It’s Friday again!
I’ve managed to do a round of editing on last week’s story and I have a second iteration to share with you. If you haven’t already, go back and read the first version, then stop over here to check out the improvements.
As I read through, I realized I was mixing POVs in the story, so I’ve corrected it to be in first person, past tense. All the tenses should now be correct. I also rearranged some of the wording to get like ideas next to each other to help with the flow of the narrative. Finally, I beefed up a bit of the story, adding in some extra explanation and details.
It still needs more work, but for a first pass through, I’m happy with this iteration.
My feet scraped along the empty highway heading out of town, my breathing timed with my footfalls. I have always had an unusual cadence, landing harder on my left foot.
Scuff scuff–scuff scuff–scuff scuff.
In the silence rural America, I revel in the lack of traffic, the freedom of thinking, the open spaces. When we lived in the city, there were always cars, noise, traffic lights. It was all I could do to just survive each run, no matter how long or short. I had to be aware of all the cars. Even then, I didn’t worry about the heartbeats. I figured there was no point in worrying.
My mom, on the other hand…
“Stop with that stupid running!” she screamed at me as I laced up my shoes, her blue eyes wild beneath her frizzy, curly, orangey-red hair. It was like looking in a mirror, except this mirror showed the future. I hate that I look like her. Everyone knows we’re related. They pity her.
If only they knew.
Spit flew from her mouth as she raged. “I’ll die from it! You’ll kill me!” She jabbed her finger in my direction, her teal shawl dropping off her shoulder. Her nostrils flared as she groped for it, her eyes still boring in me. I stood and checked my hair in the hallway mirror. I turned to look at her for just a second.
“No, mom. You’ll kill yourself.” An icy river flowed from my mouth. She took a step back and I walked away from her, out the front door. Again. Always. I swear the woman has ten times as many heartbeats as anyone else for as often as she gets worked up about nothing. I know I can’t afford to let her work me up, so I have to walk away to calm myself down.
I know. Limited heartbeats. It’s ironic that I’m a runner.
I run to get away from her. No one will give me a job around here because I want to be a professional runner. It’s a hard career to get into, though. It requires money for all the tests. So many tests, but even their fancy tests can’t predict when someone will finally run out of heartbeats. Most believe that only crazy people want to do sports. Suicidal people. People who can’t wait to die. There’s such a stigma surrounding physical activity. It seems like out here, in the country, is the only safe place to be active.
Some people save their heartbeats for love. For children.
If love is what my mother has for me, I don’t want it. If this is what having children does to you, I don’t want them. I want to run. I want to be free. Where it’s quiet. Where no one is yelling.
I glanced at my watch. Almost two hours. Nearly sixteen miles. I could do a marathon in just over three hours. Not fast enough. I need to go faster. I need to train harder. How can I train harder with her always yelling at me when I lace up my shoes to leave?
I picked up my pace, irritation driving me on and on, faster. I pushed through the aches, the wall, gritted through mile after mile.
Scuff scuff–scuff scuff–scuff scuff
Ten miles later, I arrived back home, drenched with sweat. Gloriously tired. I walked around the block to cool down. The neighbors stared at me from their windows as I walked, slowing down my breathing, drinking my recovery drink that I stashed in our bushes.
I tried, but I couldn’t delay it any longer. I really needed to pee. I needed to get inside.
I walked back into the house, surprised that mom didn’t greet me at the door, screaming about using up her heartbeats with my ridiculous plan. Whatever. I sneaked downstairs and into the bathroom.
I took a shower since I was in there with no real motivation to leave. Is there anything better than a scalding shower after a long run? I didn’t think so. The hot water poured over me, relaxing my body and mind. I stood in there longer than I should have. Why wasn’t mom yelling at me? Maybe she went out.
I finished up and got dressed in my room. My hands shook and body trembled, informing me how starved it was. I needed to eat something. I trudged back upstairs and glanced into the front room. That’s when I saw her, sitting in her green chair. Her head lolled back, her eyes glazed over.
I breathe a sigh of relief.
“Finally,” I breathe.
Now I can train.