If your cousin has a kid, what do you call that? Second cousin? First cousin once removed? Grand Cousin? Well whatever. His name is Joshua, he’s in seventh grade, he’s awesome, he likes to write and he’s pretty good at it. So, just to keep our pencils sharp, we decided to pick a scene from the FCFL once a month(ish) and each write 500 words(ish) about it.
Simple enough, right? Here we go:
Edition I – November 2016
Going the Extra Mile
Sue is running around the world, and as she does she comes across a small town. She sees a man. This man’s name is Philip. Sue is running on a road next to the train tracks. Sue sees Philip and Philip sees her. Her heart skips a beat as she runs toward him. He stops and looks at her. She opens her mouth to say something but nothing comes out. This is because under his coat she sees … running clothes.
Sue thinks to herself, oh well, better luck next time. Surprisingly Philip was thinking the exact same thing because he was also planning to say something to Sue.
The next day Philip is getting on the train to go to a far away place. In his wake is Sue hoping to catch him before he gets on the train. Sadly Sue isn’t able to catch him until he gets on the train.
Luckily Philip is in the caboose.
So Sue is running after the caboose and Philip sees her. So he starts going to the back of the caboose. Sue is running and she is running hard. The train is speeding up and as it is getting too fast for her, and she is slowing down.
Philip shouts from the caboose, “I’ll be back in a week.”
As the train disappears she whispers to herself, “I’ll wait for you.”
“I forgot my sunglasses Dad, I’ll catch up.”
Sure, he thinks. She didn’t forget anything and they both know it. But the head start is a kindness to her old man who’s not as prepared for this as he’d hoped.
It’s seven miles round trip to the river and back, along a former logging trail that is hugely popular among “trail runners,” which is what she is now, apparently.
They are on this last family vacation – to celebrate her degree – and she begged him, “Please daddy? I’ve read a ton about it and it’s supposed to be AMAZING. When are we going to be in Salvation Point again?”
He hopes later on today, but these hills look steep.
When she was 8 she ran her first 5K with him and he coasted along with her 12-minute miles (a loafing pace to him then, and to her now). He cherishes the image of her ponytail bobbing as she kept up the pace even when her legs hurt and it was hard to breathe, Mile 1, Mile 2, Mile 3, then “Just a little more now, Lacie! Finish strong!”
Running became their Thing to Do Together and he was grateful for it. Girls don’t necessarily fish or rebuild carburetors much past sixth grade – or at least they don’t want to tell their friends about it – but you can go for a run with your dad at any age as long as his shorts aren’t too short.
Three or four times a week they’d run. It was good for the body and the soul. She’d open up about school (a lot) and boys (a little) and he’d dispense clipped, winded fatherly advice – the best kind, not too wordy.
All these years he’s mostly kept up the exercise but the diet has been on a steady slide. At Christmas he’d allow himself a few extra cookies, keep five or ten extra pounds on for the winter. But he always recovered – the Monday after the Superbowl he’d reign it back in, go for the salad and skip dessert and by the Ides of March he’d reclaim that lost notch on the belt.
Then one year it was the Monday after the Monday after the Superbowl. The next year it was the Monday after that. Then it was after St. Pats, then after Easter, and now it is a perpetual year-long reset – after every bad decision he tells himself next Monday will be the day, and he means it, but …
Now that little girl, the one who still makes his chest swell with pride, has passed him up. A Bachelor’s in a field he doesn’t understand and off to grad school for a Master’s he understands less.
You want your kids to do better than you, but it’s still a shot to his pride.
Will she be as proud of him, puffing out his 12-minute miles in this heat? His gray hair already damp with perspiration and they’ve only gone 30 yards? Downhill?
He thinks not.