Persistent Friends: Episode IV:On the Mark

Jason P Stadtlander
Published on: October 2012
"On your mark! Get Set! Go!" the teacher yelled. As soon as he had spoken the word 'go' six children took off down the track, tiny legs pumping hard, arms flailing, and Jack among them.

Jack could feel his heart beating in his chest as he came around the first turn, he badly wanted to glance over his shoulder but didn't dare. There were now three children in front of him; Susan, Tyler and John - the boy who had made fun of him on the bus, two months ago. Jack's feet began to reach a steady cadence forming a rhythmic pounding on the red recycled rubber track. A soft whoosh could be heard every time his sneakers hit the surface. In the distance a bird called, and children could be heard screaming something that Jack couldn't make out. He rounded the second turn, passing John and close behind Tyler. Now half away around the track, he Susan and Tyler were approaching the far side bleachers where the rest of his gym class sat. Among them his best friend, red headed, freckle faced Elaine screaming at the top of her lungs "Go Super Jack! Go! Go Jack Attack!"
That statement alone was enough to give him the added drive to increase the beat of his feet on the pavement. Ever so slowly he approached and passed Tyler who quickly fell back. Jack's lungs were burning by the time he reached the third bend. He took the inside lane coming up on Susan's left and found a force deep within him to drive his legs faster, no longer an uncoordinated child, but a machine. Jack worried that he might not have the ability to control them if he increased his speed, but found the power none the less. He passed Susan just as they made the fourth turn and the finish line was in sight.

His teacher, Mr. Crabtree stood at the finish line with his stop watch, waiting for the children to cross the line. Jack could hear Susan attempting to catch up, but it was futile, he now had a good five yard lead on her. He sprinted as hard as he could to the finish line and blasted across it unable to slow down for twenty feet and finally coming to a stop. Jack stood, slumped over with hands on knees staring down at his sneakers, his lungs felt like they were on fire but he felt so alive.

Two minutes later a hand slapped him on the back gently, it was Elaine. "Jack! You flew! Good job!" she exclaimed.

Still out of breath he replied "Thanks. I can't believe I beat John."

Elaine scoffed "That idiot? You left him in your dust halfway around. I was impressed you beat Susan. She is a tough runner." She looked at him. He was glancing back at John "Why do you let John get under your skin? You're so much better than he is."
"I'm just so used to him picking on me. It's strange, to do something better than him, that he can't stop me at." She took him by the shoulders and stood him up, staring him in his blue eyes. "I don't cheer on stupid people or weak people. I cheer on 'super people' like you 'Super Jack'" and she gave him a hug. The two walked back towards the bleachers, passing John but not looking at him one bit.
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