Seasons Part 6 of 6

May 18th, 2014 | By Clint Foster No Comments


Mick extended his chest to cross the finish line, even though no one was around him. He’d always wanted to feel like he was just barely winning a race.

He ended up third in the conference. The first place runner would go on to win state, so he didn’t feel so bad about it. He jogged from the track, leaving behind the screaming parents and laughing athletes to head for the pits. The whole team had taken to calling it that because their discus thrower sweated through his shirt every day, even if he didn’t actually do anything. They blamed it on the pits. It was a little out of the way, so there usually weren’t a lot of people watching, only family and friends of whoever happened to be throwing at the time. The sun was a on its way down, casting long shadows on the empty fields between the track and the pits. A couple were sitting with their backs on the warm bricks, holding hands and giggling.

Mick could hear the occasional sporadic applause from ahead, and as he turned the corner he saw Carlos stepping into the ring for his first throw.

Carlos had a routine. He did the same few things every single time he got into the ring, whether it was practice, a meet, or just messing around. By now it was too strong a habit to be broken. He crouched down, stretching his neck to the left and raising his right arm, laden with the shot, before nestling it into the crook of his shoulder. He turned once to look at the conical chalk lines on the sand in front of him, seeing all of the craters made by the previous throws. A deep breath, he jumped backward, both feet landing at the same time, and whipped his body around, grunting slightly as the heavy ball soared into the air. He made sure to spin a little further so his momentum didn’t carry him over the front of the ring. Thud.

The people assigned to the tape measure scurried out as they had a hundred times before, thumbing one side down on the front of his divot, and the other by the board at the front of the ring.

“Forty-six, four.”

Carlos wiggled his head back and forth, stretching his neck out as he strode from the back of the ring to retrieve his shot. That throw put him in second place, but he needed another four inches on top of it to win. His furthest throw in practice was over fifty feet; at least that’s what coach had told him. Carlos wasn’t sure if it was a ploy to make him think he was better or if he had actually thrown that far.

Mick plopped onto the front row of the warm metal bleachers, “You got this, Carlos.” A small crescendo of applause greeted his next step into the ring. He performed his usual routine- stretch, look, breath, throw. Thud.

“Forty-six, six.”

Still short.

Cassie and Ricky both yelled from the other side of the ring, “C’mon Carlos! Just like in practice- fifty feet!”

Stretch, look, breath, throw. Thud.

“Forty-six, seven.”

Carlos couldn’t help but grunt in frustration. He stomped out to grab his shot put, shaking his head and muttering.

“C’mon, mijo, one more!” His mother’s voice burst through the background wash of sound.

Rolling his shoulders again, Carlos stepped into the ring. His mom and dad both stood behind the bleachers. They must have come straight from work to try and make it to his last meet. He grinned and started his routine. Stretch, look, breath, throw. Thud.

The tape measurers hustled out. Everyone around the pits was silent, making sure they could hear how far he threw.

“Fifty feet, one.”

Mick, Ricky, and Cassie cheered and jumped around, clapping and hailing their new conference champion. Carlos made sure to step out of the back of the ring before jogging over to his parents for a quick hug. They smiled and congratulated him, “Sorry we couldn’t see all of your throws, Carlos. Work went a little late today.”

“I’m just glad you came.”

After a few moments, they let Carlos go celebrate with his friends. The four walked back to the track, making sure they quieted down when Carlos’s name was announced over the speakers.

“What’s your plan for summer break?” Mick asked Ricky.

“Dad wants to go to Florida for a while, so we’ll do that. Otherwise, it’s just lifting and agilities. Every. Single. Day.”

Everyone made sure they told Ricky how much fun they’d be having sleeping in while he was up at six a.m.

“What about you, Carlos?”

“I go to the pool a lot. I’ll probably start lifting weights and stuff too. Maybe. And there are some band camps I go to.”

“Not even the conference championship can knock the trombone out of that thick skull.” Mick tried to give his friend a noogie, but couldn’t reach around his shoulders, so it ended up like more of a half-hearted piggyback ride.

Cassie piped up, “Well, if you’d care to know, my family is going to Hawaii this summer.”

“Bring me back a seashell!”

“And food!”

“And a turtle!”

“Don’t get eaten by a shark!”

“Thanks, guys.” She deadpanned. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Mick announced that he had no summer plans aside from sleeping until roughly noon every day, and he was proud of it. “As much fun as vacation is, sometimes it’s nice just to sleep.”

They watched the rest of the track meet. As a school they finished second by only three points. Mick and Carlos were content with their first year of track and made sure to thank their coaches before they left the stadium. On the walk home from the locker room, Mick nudged his friend, “First place, eh? What’re you gonna do next season?”

“State or somethin’.”

“State or somethin’. Guess I better start practicing now, too.” Mick waved goodbye and jogged the rest of the way home.

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