The Writing Workshop: Second

Yay the Writing Workshop is back! ๐Ÿ™‚

Continuing this series after months away was actually surprisingly easy. If you want to read the previous instalments, click the writing tab above.

Second
by Liberty Gilmore, 3/2/12

The first time Ava ever came second place.

March 9th, Age 14

In the ten minutes it took Ava to walk to the school field, she’d thought over the event that marked ‘March 9th, Age 14′ as significant in the story of Adam and Ava. She didn’t expect the moment to come back with such startling clarity as she stood in the small copse of trees where the conversation had taken place, looking at the next brightly coloured post-it note pinned to the tree before her.

Every year the school hosted a cross country tournament for the local area. Teams from other schools came and competed in various different rankings and groups. Ava was more than a good runner โ€“ with her Fey blood she could have outpaced any human โ€“ and before March 9th, Age 14, she ran every race she could, revelling in the freedom of the wind against her face, and legs pumping in rhythm.

That year, she was in Year 9, Adam a new starter in Year 7. It was a cruel and unusual torture concocted by one of the more sadistic P.E. teachers that all Year 7s had to participate in the cross country race, unlike other years who got to opt in. They raced first, the other races staggered after the first of the little ones crossed the line.

Ava remembered watching their tiny forms, looking for Holly’s goofy little brother in the crowd.

Her own race started almost an hour later. In the initial rush of momentum, she hung back, knowing the other girls would slow as their stamina was worn down by the initial burst of speed. Once they settled into their realistic pace, Ava opened up, stretching out, and took them all in under a minute, pacing ahead of the group by a considerable margin.

The track took them through the copse of trees Ava was standing in now, and she could almost see herself blazing through it, piling to a halt at the sight of a small figure sitting on the muddy floor.

‘Adam? You alright?’ she said.

Adam shrugged, holding up his muddy hands. The mud was tinged with blood where his palms had been scraped open. ‘Got shoved. Tripped.’

Ava helped him up, took his hands in hers. ‘Doesn’t look too bad,’ she said.

Adam gave her a disdainful look โ€“ one he’d perfected long before he hit teenaged. ‘It hurts,’ he said, a tinge of childish desire for comfort in his voice. It was that tone that got to her.

‘Here,’ she said, pulling her sports bottle from the holder on her arm and opening it. With one hand, she held Adam’s, channelling a hint of energy from the trees into his palms, knitting the skin back together enough to take the edge off the sting as she washed away the dirt with her water. The water masked the healing, the sting of the mud being carried away compensating for the easing of the pain caused by the cut itself. Adam didn’t even notice. She repeated the process for the other hand. ‘See, don’t be a wuss.’

She said it with a caring smile, and he beamed back at her, his hair sticking up, his P.E. kit filthy.

‘Well, I think it’s fairly safe to say I come last,’ he said.

‘I don’t think it counts as last if you have to quit because of injury.’

Adam snorted. ‘I would have come last anyway. ‘

‘You don’t know that.’

‘You’re just saying that because you don’t want me to feel bad. Not all of us can be as amazing at sport as you.’

‘I’m not amazing,’ Ava protested, but Adam scoffed before she could even get the last syllables out.

‘Ava, we’ve been stood here for nearly a minute and no one has overtaken you. You’re like some super human running machine!’

He said it with a smile, but Ava felt hers fall from her face. She turned away from him.

‘I should get going.’

‘Yeah,’ Adam said cheerily, not noticing the gloom in her tone. ‘Wouldn’t want you to come second now.’

Ava tried to smile and nod, but took off running before he noticed the strain. The other girls were close behind her now. They passed through the trees moments after she left, none paying the slightest attention to the small boy stood there.

She kept pace ahead of them, not stretching the gap further than a few metres. The front runner of the pack was a girl called Cassie Roberts, who herself was a few metres in front of everyone else. Cassie was a superb runner, but she was only human. She didn’t stand a chance against Ava.

The finish line was in sight, but Ava felt all the momentum leave her. She slowed her pace, falling back to a walk, eventually stopping right before the line. Cassie piled to a stop next to her.

‘What are you doing?’ she asked, snatching breaths between her words, forehead and neck glistening with sweat.

Ava wasn’t even tired.

‘I’m coming second,’ she said.

‘Why?’ Cassie said.

Ava smiled, knowing Cassie was too tired to see it didn’t reach her eyes. ‘Because I’m only human,’ she said.

Cassie frowned at her, but shrugged and stepped over the line. Ava followed just behind her. She didn’t run another race after that.

Why didn’t you ever run again? Adam’s note asked. You were so good at it. A natural.
I don’t think you liked to stand out.
Which makes me question โ€“ what does a beautiful, talented, amazing girl like you have to feel insecure about?

December 21st, Age 16

He knew her so well, she thought, even if he didn’t really know her at all. She took the note and headed towards her next destination.

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