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Chapter 35


January 5th 2013

 Leila’s lungs were burning and her thighs complained from over use but she smiled at herself and kept going.  She kept running around the track until she couldn’t remember which was right and which was left. Leila enjoyed the burning feeling inside her as she ran in the mornings, it had become a usual for her and she needed the practice. She wanted to be the best of the best this year. Leila wanted to be number one long distance runner at her school, no matter the costs.

 Leila had been out running every morning since school had finished, except for Christmas and New Years Day. She wanted to rest on Christmas and stay home with her family and there were too many drunks still on the streets at 5 am on New Years Day.

 Leila had spent Christmas helping her mother in the kitchen; the smell of food filled the apartment. Her dad had taken 2 weeks off work so everyone was together. Everyone was helping out. Everyone was happy.

 For New Years they had all gone up to the roof of the building to watch the fireworks. Mickey had asked her to go to Times Square with her but Leila didn’t like how full it got. She liked to me more on her on, with family and friends, yes, but not packed into a corner by people she barely knew. Leila remembered looking up at the fireworks and thinking how beautiful they were, how their colors shined in the dark shy and how she couldn’t this feeling of bliss from her chest. Or maybe that was just the cold making it hard for her to breathe. Leila and her parents had huddled together for and hour or so watching the relentless firework display. 

It was beautiful. Too beautiful to put into words, Leila could only just stare and marvel at the iridescent colors in the sky. It was after Leila’s parents had escaped back to the warmth of their apartment that Leila sat on the fire escape and called Mickey.  They had spoken just briefly wishing each other happy New Year. But that was it since then, Mickey was off the next day traveling with her parents, though Leila couldn’t understand the logic of leaving 5 days before school started.

But that was all out of her mind now.

All Leila wanted to think about was the sound that her feet made when they hit the floor and about hoe she had to keep alternating her breathing to avoid cramping. She was going to be great this year; she had trained long and hard for this. Leila had made so many sacrifices. Leila had given up time to be with her friends when they were in town because she was training. She had passed over on parties because se didn’t want it to disrupt her focus. But it’s not like skipping a couple of parties was anything difficult for Leila. She’d never really been into the party scene. She’d never really found the joy other kids did in going out all hours of the night, drinking until they couldn’t remember their own names. Leila never really felt like it was her thing.

Leila went to a couple of parties here and there to accompany her friend Mickey. Mickey would sometimes drag Leila out of the apartment and down the stair because Leila refused to go.

 “Was that so hard?” Mickey asked Leila as they stumbled onto the street falling in step behind a crowd of boys.


 “Well, boo-hoo for you. I’m calling ‘BFP’ on this.” Leila groaned. “You can’t back out now.” Mickey said poking at Leila’s side. BFP stood for ‘best friend privilege’.  It was used on rare occasion to persuade each other to do something. If they called upon BFP the other had to do what ever the other wanted. So Leila had no choice but to walk step with step with Mickey all night and be her wing woman as she tried to score one of the boys from her Chemistry class.

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