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The Dead Track

(by Angie) The ropes before the starting line seemed tied . Sure , they couldn’t allow any skier to bolt through before the count of three . “One-two-three” . With that the yellow and green striped flags waved across each other , signaling to start . The skiers dashed past across each other , cutting through the strong wind force blowing into their masked faces . I shot up past one , then another one , a third one , and then finally a fourth one . Seventeen skiers ahead of me and four dashing behind me , spinning across the path of snow . ‘Rank eighteen’ didn’t seem so bad . ‘Show time’! I pushed my track behind , racing towards the ski jump , but whitish broken cloud like snowy dust flaked into the rushing wind , blowing into the protective mask of transparent plastic that covered my eyes , increasing the pressure across my face . I couldn’t breathe and could no longer see , as it managed to draw the lid of my eye over the view , yet , I moved on that constant pace , breathless , unable to stop , till I made a semi-conscious leap in the air .

Descending from a height at a pace , that was soothing my breath , consoling my senses and helping me breathe , I felt a bit relieved as the pressure gradually lowered , but as my eyes opened and I found myself falling from a height I’d made up to , in a semi-conscious state , my senses almost drowned once again . But within seconds I’d landed onto a deep pile of snow , tearing through the wind . I’d lost my senses , my path and my legs within the freezing white pile I stood in . I’d professional training for ‘ski jumping’ . But this one wasn’t a part of the race track , so it stood dangerously rough . Yet , till that moment I’d feared ski a bit . The race reflected in my mind as it gained consciousness , gradually . With a certain force and energy , that lacked fear for all for the first time , I pushed myself out of the snow , and shot off forth at an unusual pace . About thirty meters off the path racing forth , I found the right track . What a surprise package it had been! I had only six more skiers ahead of me . I’d left fifteen of them behind .

With a friction within myself that insisted me to go past them all , I hit my ski poles into the snow , not caring about the similar intensity and pressure that had built up in my face , once more . It seemed like the plastic mask was ready to tear my skin of the face . I passed across three skiers , and within the sharpest turns I dashed past all of them , leading the race . One of the boldest skiers seemed to tease me , at a distance of about seven meters from the finish line , trying to bolt past me . With a single charge onto the snow , that aggressive body leapt into the air landing on the finishing black and white checkered strip on the snow , sparing only the second position for me . Not bad! Rank two is impressive as well . But it left me clueless out of another surprise , when I found that the bold winner was a girl! Whoa! I couldn’t even try being better than her . She was the real winner! Breaking into my state of shock were the arms of my mom , wrapped around me . She wept over my shoulder . “I thought I’d lost you , honey , when the rescue team failed to find you where you had landed . Don’t ever try to do that again .” “Its show off! Mom .” I responded . She couldn’t really win against me . Yeah . I’d been the only fool trying to direct myself off track .

The winner girl was standing right in front of me . Her pretty face was still glowing red from the pressure that the race had built up . She removed the plastic cover from her eyes , along with the cap , letting her hair fall down freely . Her wavy golden hair blew over her face with the strong wind covering her pearl green eyes . She brushed them aside with one hand , and winked at me . I shook my head with a smile , and lowered it to lift it up again , only when I’d turned around . The beautiful winner’s face was not in that site of my view . I looked at the empty ski track , recalling the accident that made me get over my slightest fear for ski . Looking at the incomplete trace of her path , from where she made a direct leap onto the finish line , I turned to walk towards the stands where my mom stood , waiting for me , till the winner girl caught up behind me .

“You won’t congratulate me?” She spoke in her beautiful voice .

“Why won’t I? You were so perfect! You just deserved it . Congratulations! Uh! Your name?” I responded .

“Haha! Thanks! I’m Zoe . You?”

“Evi .” I answered .

“And won’t you want to shake the winners hand?” She said bringing her bare hand forward . Cool attitude! Huh?

Swinging my hands behind my back , I removed a single glove with my other gloved hand , and shook hers . Gosh! It was freezing! She laughed at that again .

“So when do I see you next , Evi?”

“Umm! In the next race? You’ll be coming , right?”

“Yeah . Three days from today , it is . Right?”

“Hmm! Good luck with it , Zoe .”

“To you , too .” She responded , shaking my hand once again before leaving .

With the practice , I tied myself , to a frantic schedule . ‘I’ll beat her this time’ . With this I geared up myself .

I didn’t choose that dead track of ski jump in the next race , yet , I managed to take the lead from all . But her beautiful face didn’t let me win . I didn’t want to take her place . The ranks for the week remained the same . It had her as the winner , and it had me next to the winner .

“You deserved my position today . Are you mad? What did you do?” She sounded frustrated . “Sorry , but I won’t claim what doesn’t belong to me .” With this , she handed her trophy to me in front of the spectators and walked away . I took long strides to catch up with her . “I’m sorry , Zoe . Cool! You prefer fair win!” She stared into my eyes with anger . That scared me . I would have backed out . But I kept up - “Okay , lets be friends .” She shook my hand , with an easy smile . “Promise me , you won’t do that again , Evi .” “Yeah . I promise , I won’t .” I answered .

“So , when do we meet next?” I asked her .

“In the next race . That’s seven days from now , I suppose .” Ah! She was winding back to my words .

“I don’t think I’ll be coming . Lets meet tomorrow , at the Rochers’ at 5pm . Is that okay with you?” I asked her .

“Yeah . Alright . But you’ll be joining in for the race too .” She said sternly .

“Come on . Anger isn’t good for health .” I said jokingly to cool her down .

The other evening , I reached the Rochers’ at five minutes to five . She was waiting there for me . “Sorry , did I keep you waiting here for long?” I asked her .

“Yeah , you did . I reached here at three .” What for? Huh! But I didn’t say anything to her . Talking about general likings , I learnt that she had herself filled with grudges - “ ‘I hate my younger sister’s interference in everything .’ ‘I hate my room . Its ceiling drips every time it rains , and dad won’t have it plastered .’ ‘Uh! And what did you think? That after yesterday’s race you impressed me? Just don’t do that again , or I’ll start hating you for that . And you’re participating in the next race at any cost . I don’t know what your reason for backing out is . And I don’t even want to know . I just want to beat you . And I want it to be fair .’ ” God! I’d never expected her to be that immature .

I attended to all her problems , apologizing to her at last . “You think too much about your possessions , Zoe . That upsets you . Try keeping yourself engaged in better things . Spend more time with your family , rather than spending it with yourself .” There was supposed to be a reason , for her not getting frustrated . What a girl! I couldn’t handle her mood . I had given it up to her . Keeping all this within , I tried opening myself the best way possible , to her . At that , I found her opening up too . I’d found my way! I found the reason of her frustration . She couldn’t handle her mood , so she couldn’t handle friendships . I couldn’t leave her , for it really wasn’t her fault . That was why she’d liked me .

We walked out at seven . “Evi , do you mind my spending time with you?”

“Why? Of course not . I like your company .” I responded .

“Um! I don’t wish to spend much time with myself . I would rather enjoy spending it with you .” Yes , she had begun to open up with me . Little girl! She was so immature . But our age difference wasn’t much . She was younger to me only by four months , being seventeen years and three months old .

“Me too .” I responded , giving her my phone number and noting hers on my palm .

“So , how are you going back home?” I asked her .

“I’ll walk back .” She responded .

“Hmm! Let me drop you . I have a fine vehicle right here .” We walked to the parkway , where I’d parked my bike .

“You like bikes?” She asked me , adding that she found them unsafe .

“Yeah . But they are better than cars . You can exceed the speed limit of sixty kilometers per hour without paying a fine , at least . You can’t smoke in the car , something I tend to do often , but land up paying a fine . You can’t drive freely . Even at a speed of 60km/hr , you’re bound to use the seat belt . I hate these restrictions . Don’t worry! I’m not a bad biker at all .” I assured her .

She sat at the back holding onto the seat , initially . Go faster! She insisted . Lets go for a longer ride . We raced on the highway at 80km/hr . I liked it wild! The pressure seemed too low , before the wonder ski jump on the dead track I met . She held on to me tight , as I raced the bike down through the highway . We raced it across the main market , taking sharp exciting turns till it almost ran out of fuel . I rode to her destination . She commented as she got off – “You’re wild! You fit in my definition of a biker – wild and crazy!”

“Yeah? Thanks! Does your definition take me as a safe biker?”

“You’re safe for me , at least . You know why? Because you care , and I can feel that .” She said .

“True . I do .”

“Why did you try that ‘dead’ ski jump?” She questioned . I didn’t expect this one to come up .

“My bike wanted me to .” I laughed it off .

“How was it?”

“Killing!” I answered . It made her silent . “Hello!” I exclaimed…“Say something .”

“Good night!” She said .

“What happened?”

“Nothing . Good night! Drive back safe .”

“Good night! Sleep tight! Dream of me tonight . Haha!” I turned to sit on my bike again , but she hugged me from behind . “Promise me , you won’t try anything off track again .” It muted me for a minute . “I promise . I won’t . Now , little girl! Go inside . Don’t miss me . Just , call me when you tend to . Anytime .” I patted her back . She loved being treated like a junior . I waved her goodbye for the day .

In the night , my phone rang at 2am waking me up instantly . It was her .

“Hello!” I sounded constipated out of sleep .

“Hey! You said I could call anytime .”

“Yeah . Anytime at all .” I assured her .

“So , are we meeting at the Rochers’ at 2pm , for lunch , tomorrow?”

“Yes , sure . I’ll be there .” I responded .

“Okay , you sleep then . Good night!”

“Good night!” I said and hung up .

We made our meetings persistent . A joyride on the highway on my bike , went casually with each meeting , till a day before the next ski race .

“All the best for the race tomorrow . I promise I’ll be fair .” I said , reminding her of it . She had quite forgotten about it .

“No , we aren’t going . I can’t let you be on your own . You’ll go for that ski jump again .”

“I won’t . I promised . Remember?”

“Forget about the race . We aren’t going .”

“Okay .” I sighed .

I dropped her at her place . It went as usual . Till she grabbed the hold of my t-shirt to stop me by , before I left . “Evi , do I love you?” It shook me . I paused for a minute to think of an answer . At last , I responded , “We’ll go and watch the race tomorrow . After that , I’ll give you your answer .” I’d been careful in answering . She could take it . She had learnt to trust me . So , she promised to wait till the other day .

I took a seat in the stands the other day , and called her up . There was no answer . I found out that she’d registered for the race as well . Hmm! Very well . I was there in the audience watching her race with the other bold skiers .

She bolted at a race car’s speed leaving all the surprised skiers behind her , and headed to that dead track to face the ski jump , I’d faced . ‘No , don’t . Please , stop .’ I prayed . My heart raced with fright when there was no sign of her on the right track even after seven minutes . Seven minutes within the snow are enough to paralyze you , or simply enough to take away your life . With the rescue team I headed to that rough killer track . They dug where I indicated I’d stuck . A meter ahead of the spot they spotted her , lying unconscious , and pulled her out . Stretching her limbs onto the stretcher , they drifted it up in the helicopter .

In the hospital I stood by the bedside , where she lay conscious . She threw an innocent look at my face with a smile . Her lips appeared pale , and she opened her mouth to speak - “It almost killed you , Evi . It would have killed me too , but you saved my life .” Her mental state wasn’t quite balanced . Only I could help it . She loved me , and I loved her too . “Do I love you?” She asked me again . “Give me my answer , Evi .”

I hugged her tight . “What do you feel? What does your heart say to you?”

“It says -- it says that I love you , Evi .” I felt helpless at that moment . I made up my mind to help her through , to drag her out of that state . I could help her out , the doctors had said , and I sensed that too .

“I love you too much to let you go , little girl! You almost killed me . You promise me now , that you won’t do that to me again .”

“I promise . I promise .” She cried into my shoulder , and kissed my lips , before the affect of the anesthesia closed her eyes , for the night .
Paper still has a great future
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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