The weather is frightfully cold. A man with an eighty-eight on his chest is sitting on a rock. He looks exhausted. His balaclava has been heaved onto the ground next to him. Steam radiates from his hair, which is all over the place. His shadow has grown in. It has been days since he shaved. On the ground are his socks. They are red from blood.
The runner is examining his foot. He has it pulled up as close to his face as he can get it. There is a quarter-sized blister on the back where the shoe meets his heel. A toenail is teetering awfully close to falling off, badly chipped and bleeding. He doesn't want to touch it. It's that fragile. Another blister near the landing spot at the front. Beyond that, there is just a general fatigue, wear and tear. These feet have been busy over the last few days.
Due to the temperature, these toes can't stay exposed for long. He is trying to wrap some gauze around the worst of the wounds. He digs in his bag, trying to find fresh socks but can't. Instead, he reaches down and grabs the bloody socks. Slowly, he pulls them back onto his feet. There is pain in his eyes. It takes minutes to get the socks back on. He needs a break before he can continue to his shoes.
He goes for his water. It's bone dry. Then he pulls the map out. He looks around. There are no flags to mark the path. There are barely any footsteps to follow. He is fingering his way around the map, trying to figure out where he is. How much further to the next checkpoint. He needs warmth. He needs socks. It looks like he is only halfway. There is still a long journey ahead.
For a few seconds, a thought creeps in. He could pull out his GPS and end it. He could hit that button, and they would come to find him within an hour. That's the easy way out. While looking down, a tattoo slips out from under his sleeve. Not Done.
Every failure from his life cascades into his mind. The jobs he quit. The people he left behind. The people who left him behind. It's real pain. Blisters might hurt, but they always heal. The pain he is feeling right now is the kind that is so deeply rooted, it is attached to his central nervous system. He is shaking violently, curled up in a ball, like an addict going through detox. This is the kind of pain thinking of quitting brings to him. His body outright rejects the thought and forces him into convulsions until he can clear his mind.
He stands. Rolls up his sleeve. He doesn't care that it is freezing. He cracks his neck left and then right. Stretches out his arms. Puts wet shoes over bloody socks. Pulls on the frozen balaclava. Puts two fingers to his heart and raises them up.
Then he starts running. One foot after the other.
Just another day at the office.
This is a chapter sample from B.A. Bellec's debut novel Someone's Story.
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Someone's StoryGeneral Fiction
"B. A. Bellec has crafted a masterpiece of emotive and well-rounded young adult fiction." K.C. Finn - Author "A gripping story of teenage life and the many problems they face. A RED RIBBON WINNER and highly recommended." The Wishing Self Book Awards...