Twenty-three Minutes

Submitted by Sarah on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 01:14

A girl stands at the bottom of a hill, gazing up towards the summit. Her breath steams at regular intervals in the cold, early-morning air as she ponders her next move. indecision shows in her face which shows all her emotions in agonizing clarity. She glances around her; she is alone. This she is pleased with. She does not want anyone to see her if she fails. The distance is so long for her! She does not know if she can do it. She nods slowly to herself, response to an inner argument. Slowly her right hand comes up, she looks down at the object grasped firmly in it. She pauses, then her thumb comes down with a snap. She takes off as if shot from a gun; sprinting up the hill in a steady, regular gait that belies its speed. Her breath comes a little shorter about half way up the hill and her face begins to get a little red but she does not slacken her pace.

She is almost to the summit, there is a strain evident in jaw line and she pumps her arms harder. This seems to help and she puts on a little more speed as she crests the hill. A tiny sigh escapes her lips as she views the long, straight stretch of gravel road ahead of her; she continues to run. The grey sky has lightened imperceptibly since she started at the bottom and pink rays shoot from the brightest part of the horizon. She runs faster, a wind is blowing in her face, her hair streams out behind, a shining banner. She takes off her sweatshirt as she runs and ties it around her waist as the grey turns to the palest of blues.  The veins in her arms stand out starkly, dull green on palest white.

The wind slackens, she takes advantage of the fact and presses on harder. Her feet are fairly winged as she speeds along the road. She raises the object in her hand and grants it a passing glance. What she sees makes her eyes narrow and her face harden and from somewhere within her thin body she dredges up enough energy to not only hold her present rate of velocity but also increase it. She is nearly breathless, each intake of oxygen is labored, a rasp is developing in her chest. The muscles in her arms ripple as she clenches her fists. She is determined to go on. The sky is lightening faster, this also serves as a prod to her.

As the sun creeps above the horizon she passes a weather-beaten post. Her thumb comes down on the object in her hand and she stops abruptly and turns and walks back to the post, weariness in every line of her body. She shivers, the thin film of sweat covering her body is chilling to her in the cool wind and she put the sweatshirt back on. She sits with her back against the post, she looks as though if she does not sit she may collapse. She closes her eyes for a long moment then raises the the object in her hand; it is a stopwatch. She looks at the time it displays.

Pure joy blossoms from her face as she gazes at it, a single tear slips down her face. How long as it been since she ran that far that fast? It has been long, she knows. She disregards the fact that she used to be able to run farther, faster, longer. This is enough, this is proof that she is recovering. She stands, a little shaky but far more confident now than she was at the bottom of the hill. She slips the stopwatch into her pocket and dances for the first few steps before settling for a brisk walk back in the direction from whence she came. The wind now blows from behind her, pushing her forward, urging her on to greater accomplishments.

The sun is fully risen, the sky purest of blue. A bird calls from the distance,a light, merry trill. The girl smiles again, radiating bliss and peace. "It is enough for now." she whispered, her hand carressing the stopwatch in her pocket.


~~~~~ ~~~~~~

This is flash fiction, there will not be any more to this story.

Author's age when written


it's good. i like it. why is it called 23  minutes?

“Oh Ronnie! I can’t believe you’re a prefect! That’s everyone in the family!” said Mrs. Weasley.
“What are Fred and I, next-door neighbors?”
–George Weasley

Because that's how long it took her.

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

Oh, I love this! Wonderful writing, Sarah.

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond