Defining (Part 2)

The Years Spent at a Modern University
Four-hundred and fifty-eight
Add an extra two points in the margin
The glow upon your face
The carpel tunnel ache setting in
One more quote
One more example
Your eyes scan the masses
A friendly face smiles up at you
Nine-hundred forty seven
You’re almost there
Re-work a thought
Re-write that sentence
Have another conclusion
Have some more caffeine
The hum of the drive writing
The slip of the laser
Twenty-three minutes left to spare

And Then

A second year followed the first and those friendships and images carried over to begin another. The beginning became the middle–a middle made of events and exchanges, of developments and devastations, and of complications and conversations. Yet the middle is actually another beginning. The mind, now rested from its first feverish writings collects itself once again to draw more connections and add fresh details. The ideas and thoughts begin to crystallize onto the page. No longer are they fleeting words or images, but they begin to become thoughts and even emotions. 

We know how this story began, yet if it were that simple there would be no reason to tell what happened next. Happily ever after is not part of life, for something did happen. A dragon fell, yet another sort of dragon arose and they were indeed very real.

The Safety of what we know

It was very easy to return to that college life after a summer spent home with family and old friends. In fact, it was with a sense of relief. After a summer spent with her wings clipped as the expectations of her had not changed, she looked forward to another year of races and classes and friends. It was odd to look forward to the idea of being covered in mud or soaked by rain, yet it was wonderful to think of another year in that room. Another year that would be spent laughing and talking and even learning. 

The memory of the frantic rush of the last year melted as did the distasteful memory of boring classes. Glories on the track and her conquests of academia fed her desire for more. 

Caroline felt refreshed and revived when she and her mother once again loaded the car with her belongings and traveled to Bradely. This year Martin greeted her with a kiss and she settled in for another year.


Smaug was born somewhere between St. George and the Serpent in the garden, and his spawn spilled forth unto the pages of fantasy and into the minds of adventurers. No tale seems complete without them or their legends. Writers from King and Eddings to Le Guin and McCaffrey include the beasts in their works. Changing little in the characteristics but varying them and their purposes. They remained creatures of plunder and destruction or were transformed into help mates or wise beasts to be treated with caution. Like the rainbow–differing in their intelligence, their intent, and their color. 

The second dragon she remembered was a blue dragon. Caroline’s Elven warrior, Loth and her party came upon the beast as they journeyed through the dungeons of a forgotten wizard’s castle. They almost died in the fight the followed, but Hamish, the dwarf of the party, managed to distract the beast long enough for Tilgar, the paladin, to cut a long gash through the bright scales of his right side. When the beast turned to attack him Jans, the thief, sprang on to the beast’s back to plunge his long, needle-like sword into its neck. The beast died shortly afterward. 


Slow–Count–One-thousand one–breathe–one thousand two–breathe–remember the course–breathe–good-girl–first mile is after the open downhill–breathe–second mile is on the edge of the playing fields–breathe–then it’s the long hill through the woods–breathe–right after that is the last half-mile–breathe–shit–come on stay relaxed–shit–relax–breathe–Our father who art in heaven–breathe–hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come–relax–thy will be done–breathe–ready–on earth as it is in heaven–just take the line–forgive us our trespasses–set–as we forgive those who–here we go.

On the edge

I’m standing on the edge of it all
And I dare not look down
So I watch what lies across from me
Off afar, faintly seen.
My heart is caught by my nervous throat–
I make a tiny step,
The mists begin to shift
To show what once had slept
Yet now chooses to fly above the sky
–Dreams into my heart have crept.


“How was the race?” Elise asked.
“Okay I guess.”
“Okay? How’d you do?”
“Is that good?”
“Yeah–it means I’ll run the Varsity A race at next Saturday’s Invitational.”
“Where’s that one at?”
“Otterbein. Think you’ll come?”
“I’d love to, but I have rehearsal all day. Is Martin going to go?”
“He’s not sure. How are rehearsals?”
“All right. Still think the director should have cast Greg as Leonardo and not Chris.”
“That only because Gregg is cuter and looks better in tights.”
“True, but isn’t just that–although when we had first dress and he walked out of the dressing room we all about died–it didn’t leave much to the imagination.”
“Well they covered it well enough.”
“Yes, the director decided that the need to preserve Puck’s boyish-ness far outweighed the costume designers search for pure forms.”
“What are the costumes like for this show?”
“Simple–that’s all we’ve been told. Another modernized production. Hey, did Martin go to your time-trials today?”
“No, he had an emergency council meeting of some sort. I guess the Treasurer was expelled at the end of last week and now they’re frantically scurrying around trying to make sure all the nickels are still there.”
“Eww–Not good.”
“No–not good. I’m gonna take a shower–I still smell like mud.”
“How was the course?”
“Not too bad. Just a few swampy patches. We all went into the woods clean and came out brown from the waist down though. Steven wouldn’t stop laughing over it.”
“Yes. He and Roger came.”
“The hockey player. Remember we went to his game last winter.”
“Oh that’s right. The one I haven’t met.”
“Well you’ll get a chance to meet him as he, Steven, Keith, and Michael and I are going out to see a movie. Keith is bringing Katherine so why don’t you come?”
“I don’t know. When?”
“Thursday, before the freshmen arrive.”
“Let me check–do I have rehearsal–no, that’s the moon and woodcutters scene.”
“Good, you can protect me from Michael.”
“I thought he was dating someone?”
“He was.”
“Oh. Just don’t let me get stuck with him and Steven.”
“I won’t.”
“Good–the thought of being stuck between two highly intelligent Jewish boys is not very pleasant.”
“Elise! That’s not very nice. Besides what about your dad?”
“It is nice. They’re very smart and I don’t want to be a complete fool. If I could I’d do what my mother did and find a nice one while I’m here and make him marry me.”
“But not Michael or Steven.”
“Why not?”
“Well, Michael has an ego the size of Miami’s Cuban Population and a tendency to digest girls faster than canned corn. Steven on the other hand, is obviously interested elsewhere.”
“You know….”
“He’s not gay.”
“I know that. What I mean is that he’s smitten.”
“When did you talk to him?”
“I haven’t really.”
” Really, who then?”
“Be serious.”
“I am serious.”
“Yes, Steven.”
“I don’t even thinks of girls that way.”
“All guys do.”
“All he ever talks about is his computer or math.”
“Of course that’s all he talks about. Those are safe subjects.”
“Yes safe, as you are dating someone else.”
“Elise you’re crazy.”
“No I’m not.”
“Look, just drop the subject okay.”
“Sorry….Why are all the boys back early anyway?”
“Keith is an RA, and the other three are sharing a place this year.”
“Ah, at least we’re not the only one’s who opted to stay in the dorms. And at least we don’t have to help any little freshers move their stuff in here.”
“Yes, but between your rehearsals and my training I think we’ll be too exhausted to notice.”
“Probably right, but the calm is always enjoyable.”

“Hi Caroline. Are you ready?”
“Hi, just about. Elise, are you ready. Roger’s here.”
“I’ll be right out.”
“So who’s driving?”
“Keith and I am–there’s so many of us.”
“Oh, do we have to pick anyone else up?”
“No, Michael and his new thing are meeting us there with Keith and Katherine. Steven’s waiting in the car for us.”
“Ah. Elise! Aren’t you ready yet?”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
“You’d think we were going to meet the queen.”
“You’re so sweet sometimes Caroline. Hi, I’m Elise.”
“Hi–I’m Roger.”
“The hockey player.”
“Uh, yeah.”
“Sorry just finally putting the face to the name.”
“Are we ready then?”

“I think you sufficiently dazzled him.”
“Oh be serious Caroline.”
“I am. He’s smitten.”
“Really! I know Roger. He was almost drooling.”
“He didn’t even ask for my phone number.”
“Why would he–it’s the same as mine.”
“Good point. Well, he didn’t even try to hold my hand let alone kiss me.”
“That’s a bit too forward for Roger. Did he ask about the show?”
“And did he say he’d come?”
“Then he’s falling for you.”
“How can you be so sure.”
“I can tell.”
“I don’t know about that. You certainly are oblivious when it comes to Steven.”
“Elise–I thought we agreeded to drop that subject.”
“Well, did you ask him?”
“Ask him what?”
“If he’s in love with you.”
“Of course I didn’t, the subject never came up.”
“Of course not. It won’t come up until you say something. That’s what he’s waiting for.”


“Hi Jack, is Mom there?”
“Hi Caroline. Hold on a minute and I’ll get her. Honey, Caroline’s on the phone.”
“Hi Care.”
“Did I send the right sized spikes?”
“Yeah, quarter inch is fine. How’s everyone?”
“We’re fine. Jack is getting the fishing tackle ready for when Brain comes tomorrow.”
“Brian’s visiting?”
“Yes. He had a fight with Missy–he moved out. Hopefully we won’t have to worry about a wedding. How’s training been?”
“Good, we had a couple of hard workouts this week, but today was easy–tomorrow is an dual meet.”
“Jack and I are coming to your race at Kenyon for sure and we might make the one at Malone if I don’t have to work that weekend. How are classes?
“Good, one literature class, a world history class and really basic anthropology class.”
“Sounds interesting.”
“One of the last three I’m required to take for an English major. After that I can take electives. The history class shouldn’t be too bad as it’s all ancient civilizations and will end up overlapping with my anthropology course.”
“How are your professors?
“My history teacher is boring but he’s managed to tell at least one dirty joke in each class, and he loves to talk about ancient sexual persuasions.”
“That’s sounds like Professor Harris.”
“It is Professor Harris.”
“You’re kidding–he’s still there. I had him for history of ancient civilizations my junior year.”
“He’s still here.”
“Amazing. Who are your other professors? Maybe I know them as well.”
“Probably not. My English professor is a visiting professor from Wales. He’s teaching the critical writing, and my Anthropology–I think she said she graduated from Reed, but I’m not sure.”
“Oh, still the fact that you have Crazy Harris for history is funny. Did I ever tell you the story of that one exam….”

Growing up

It took a roll of 21 to kill a red-dragon, a roll of 18 to kill a blue dragon, 16 to kill a black and 15 for a green. That was when you were using four six-sided dice, but as the game advanced those numbers changed with the probabilities. Now one might have a one in fifteen or a four in something chance at defeating such a beast. Later it went even farther and each blow, each dodge and parry was measured accounted and described. The game became one of thought and imagination as opposed to a variation of craps. The dragons were all Smaugs. They were beasts of wealth and destruction to be bled by a half-elf with 158 hit points, an armor class of 4 and wearing a ring of invisibility. To save against the dragons fiery, or icy breath was possible with yet another die roll, for it was all a formula for the imagination. 


Slow–stay behind her. Don’t try to move ahead. Just stay behind her. Don’t waste your energy. Another quarter and you’re to the first mile mark. Come on steady. Is that Chris up there? Come on keep drafting off of her. She’s getting tired. Stay behind her until the trees. Yeah that’s Chris. Try and catch her in the woods. Come on keep moving you wench. You can catch her on the uphill right before the mile mark. She hates long uphills. Come on almost to the woods. Steady. Good–the trees. A little more. Watch the roots. There she is. Shit, there’s the hill. Come on–just keep going. Count your strides. One two three four five breathe six seven eight don’t give up nine ten eleven twelve head up thirteen fourteen halfway fifteen sixteen seventeen almost got her eighteen nineteen come on twenty twenty-one two come on three four got her five six there’s the marker you’re almost up. seven eight nine thirty yes you’re the sixth Bradely runner now. Marker and time?



“Tired?” asked Steven.”
“Good race.”
“You must have picked up about thirty places from right before the ridge after the first mile to when you came out of the second patch of woods.”
“I just kept looking for red and gold. Wanted to come in top five so badly.”
“Did you?”
“Yeah–number four. Is Martin around?”
“No haven’t seen him.”
“Figures. He said he was coming, but–oh well. Listen I need to go find some ice. My shins hurt from all that cement and these spikes. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Sure. I’ll be here.”

“Martin?” Caroline called.
“What time is it?”
“Quarter past one.”
“Shit, why didn’t you wake me?”
“I forgot, sorry.”
“I promised Roger and Steven I’d meet them for lunch at one. What are you doing?”
“Just playing.”

“Sorry I’m late.”
“That’s okay. Steven and I didn’t get here until about ten minutes ago. Where’s Elise?”
“She has rehearsal.”
“Oh that’s right. When does the play start?”
“In three weeks.”
“She excited?”
“Yeah, she loves the show–hates her costume. Roger you could just call and talk to her.”
“I guess.”
“She’d appreciate it much more if you called her instead of sending greetings through me. Steven don’t you agree?”
“Uh–sure. Are you guys ready to order?”
“Okay–how’s Martin?”
“Gee–a bit uncomfortable. He’s fine I guess.”
“You guess?”
“He’s fine.”
“But nothing. He’s fine.”
“Come on Caroline. What’s wrong.”
“Nothing’s wrong. Martin is fine. I just left him in my room at my computer playing Solitaire. He’s fine. We’re fine. Everything’s fine.”
“Okay okay–sorry.”
“Have you two decided what you’re going to order yet?” Steven asked.

“How was rehearsal?” Caroline asked.
“Tiring. How was lunch?” Elise asked.
“Good, once we got past the fine issue.”
“The subject of Martin.”
“Yeah– Roger is of the opinion that if I don’t love him I shouldn’t be dating him, let alone sleeping with him.”
“We’re not sleeping together, anymore. I mean I’ve just been so tired, and he’s always dealing with council shit and it’s, oh it’s just….”
“Well what about Roger’s first argument?”
“The one about love?”
“Yeah. Let me guess, you’re still undecided on that one.”
“I don’t know. I don’t even think I was ever ‘undecided’–God, that sounds like choosing a major–I just didn’t love him.”
“And now?”
“And now…I guess I love him.”
“You guess?”
“Well I told him I love him.”
“But do you mean it?”
“I don’t know. Elise I’m too tired for this tonight.”
“Come on Caroline, don’t string him along. Either you love him or you don’t.”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know. Hell, I don’t even know what love is. I mean wouldn’t I know somehow–intuitively–if I were in love? But then if now–what if this is all there is?”
“Then why are you in the relationship.”
“….I guess because its what is expected of me–I mean to date a guy like Martin–good looking, sort of intelligent, above avarage physique…it sounds so crude to put it that way.”
“Is that how you think about it.”
“Not always, no. Sometimes I enjoy his company, other times its just sort of there.”
“You’re comfortable with him.”
“That isn’t so bad is it?”
“Is it? I mean I care about him, but I keep thinking there must be something else.”
“Could you see yourself still with him in another, say, five years.”
“God, I don’t even know where I’ll be in five years.” 


ELEVEN O SEVEN. ELEVEN O EIGHT. ELEVEN O NINE. Shit! eleven o nine–damn that’s fast. Just a mile more. Come on remember the finish is right after the uphill from the ravine. Catch a few there. Come on. Just fly. Concentrate. Get that girl ahead. Only twenty yards. Steady, watch her shoulder not her feet. Good. See, she’s pulling you up. Almost got her now. Good–now if I remember from the map the railroad tracks are just ahead. After that the course should head back. Yes, should be right. Got her. Oh–that’s a train whistle. The tracks must be right up ahead. She’s trying to stay with me–I don’t think so sweetheart. Let’s have a bit of fun. Puddle–up and over. Lengthen your stride. She’s getting the hint. Breathe. Drop your arms a bit, relax. Another patch of mud–over. Nice landing. Yes, she’s slowing. Keep the pace. Don’t think of slowing until you get to those tracks.


“How did the race go?” Martin asked.
“All right.” How am I going to do this?
“How did you do?”
“Seventeenth.” Just take a deep breath…
“Is that good?”
“Yes, we won the invitational.” …and say it.
“Knock Knock,” called Elise.
“Hi Elise.” Thank goodness.
“I’m not interrupting anything am I? I just need to pack my stuff for rehearsal.”
“No, we were just talking about Caroline’s race. She came in seventeenth, isn’t that great?”
“Yeah, I know. Steven and I were there.”
“Caroline have you seen my brush?”
“It was in the bathroom.” Come on, be strong–just tell him the truth.
“Thanks. Then I’m packed. I’ll see you guys later.”
“Do you know what time you’ll be back.”
“Around eleven as it’s first run through. So you two do whatever–just make sure you’re quieted down by then.”
“Thanks mom.”
“No problem and now if you two will excuse me. I have a date with the director from hell. Good luck.”
“Bye.” Shit.
“Good luck? Why good luck Caroline?”
“Martin we have to talk.”

“So, how’d it go?” Elise asked.
“I felt like such a jerk. “We have to talk.’ ‘Can’t we just be friends.’ ‘It’s not you.’ God, please strike me down.”
“Oh come on. It obviously didn’t go that badly He’s not still here.”
“No, but you missed the half hour of him crying.”
“Yes crying and telling me how I’m the only girl he’s ever loved and I’ve ruined his life and all that other bullshit.”
“Good girl.”
“What do you mean?”
“Charlie sent me the exact same can over e-mail this summer. I think it makes him feel better.”
“You think Martin will be okay?”
“Oh sure, give him a month to find some freshman to have a fling with and he’ll be fine. After his little rebound he’ll probably show up here to gloat and see if you’ll take him back now that he’s proved he’s desired by others.”
“Cute Elise. Is that what Charlie did?”
“Sort of–I guess we have to wait until he gets home to see if he crawls to my door-step. Men are such pigs sometimes. I’m so glad the next show is almost all women.”
“Poor baby, the theater girlies giving you a hard time.”
“Yeah and they harass the other actresses too. But how about you. You okay?”
“I think so. I hope I did the right thing.”
“You’ll be fine. It’ll just take getting used to. I’m gonna make some popcorn. Want some?”
“Sure. Can you make two bowls–I’m really hungry. While you do that I’m going to go down and get some ice.”
“Shins still bothering you?”
“Yeah, today was almost all mud.”
“Ah, explains the smell in the bathroom.”
“Sorry, I didn’t feel like showering at the field house after the meet, so I just came home.”
“Don’t worry I opened the window–the only thing that stinks now are your shoes.”

More than dice

One gained experience from defeating such beasts and the more experience a character had the harder they were to kill. More advanced players sought to defeat creatures that challenged their brains as well as their biceps. They planned attacks and tried to out think their enemies, yet they always sought more victories, more power, more riches. They would make themselves gods if the dungeon master allowed.

Yet the most revered creatures, the most feared remained the dragons. Intelligence was said to be a great part of a dragon’s success. They were not just beasts of destruction and death but creatures of eloquence and elegance.

The dragons were white for ice, black for a poison, blue for lightening, green for chlorine, yellow for acid and red for fire. They were forces of evil and destruction. But their kind was redeemed for there was one truly good dragon. With the power of the sun and life this beast did not sleep upon a magnificent couch, for what gold could rival that of its living flesh.


Come on three hundred yards. Watch it don’t slip. Who’s up there? There’s a Kenyon and a Heidelberg runner. Try. Watch her shoulder. Pull damn pull. Two hundred. She doesn’t have kick. Now get the next one. Come on breathe–just get her. A little more. One hundred. Sprint damn it–extend. Arms. Got her. Fifty more. On your toes. Just one more. You can do it. Twenty. Don’t stop till you’re past that line. Keep your eyes on that line. Yes.


“Can you see anyone yet?” Elise asked.
“No,” Roger replied.
“What time is it?”
“Fourteen and a half minutes,” Steven replied. “We should see the leader any moment.”
“There,” Roger said.
“What school?” Elise asked.
“U of M,” Steven said.
“Oh look! There’s more behind her,” said Elise.
“That’s usually how it works,” Steven mumbled.
“I don’t see any red and gold–wait there she is with another Bradely runner.”
“Is that Caroline?” asked Roger.
“It should be Jackie and Kara,” said Steven.
“Oh…Roger, how many have gone by?” Elise asked.
“Wait! Is that her, Steven?”

“Elise, you made it!”
“No rehearsal today–I said I’d make it to one of your away meets. Are they all this big?”
“Oh no, just the invitationals on Saturdays. Half of this one is high schools anyway.”
“Oh. Aren’t you cold in just shorts?”
“Me? No, but I will be–let me get my sweats.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah sure, why?”
“You’re limping a little.”
“I’m just tired–my shins are sore from all the hills, and I need to get out of these spikes.”
“Hi, good race. I didn’t see much of the course, what was it like?” asked Steven as he joined them.
“Fairly dry, but there were so many hills I lost count. How was the drive up?”
“He drove, Roger slept in the back seat and I spent the time with Stanislovski,” replied Elise.
“Where is Roger?” asked Caroline
“He’s talking to a guy from Kenyon,” Steven said.
“Here, before I forget–Let me get a picture of you.”
“Do you want Steven in it?”
“Sure. Bit closer–good, got it.”
“So did you find out about auditions?” Caroline asked.
“Yeah, I went over and read the call boards before we left.”
“I was cast as Agnes–it wasn’t what I wanted, but hey, it’s a role.”
“Listen I have to go cool down with Kara and Jackie. How about if I meet you guys back here in about an hour.”
“Okay, see you in a bit.””Elise?”
“Yes Steven?”
“Has she said anything about her shins?”
“No, why?”
“Does she ice after practices as well.”
“Yeah, a couple of times. Don’t worry she’s just being careful.” 


It was a glorious autumn. The trees were vying with one another to see which could display the most brilliant colors before losing them to the winds. They were looking forward to a brisk, invigorating winter and then a wonderful spring. There was an excitement to the rustling overhead as Caroline walked home from class. 

Tomorrow could be the last meet of the season–if she failed to qualify. But how could she fail. Her times were still dropping, she was running stronger every race even with shin splints. In another few races she would be up with Kara and Jackie or even past them. The next race. It was her course. She knew every mile, every stride, every patch of god damn mud. 


“Elise–it’s Roger–he just wants to know where he can park tonight.”
“Tell him there’s a staff lot to the left of the theater–it’ll be open.”
“So who are all coming tonight?”
“Me, Roger, Steven, Keith and Kath, and Michael who may be bringing a date.”
“Oh my.”
“On nothing, that’s just a lot of people.”
“We promise to be very loud and make lots and lots of noise.”
“Very funny. What time do you have to leave?”
“Around eleven. Race doesn’t start until one-thirty.”
“A little. After this there are only sectionals and maybe beyond. You?”
“Very, but at the bottom of it all there is the odd calm. I just want it to be perfect one time before the lights come up and the run is finally over.”


Slow–Count–One-thousand one–breathe–one thousand two–breathe–one thousand three–breathe–first mile–breathe–second mile–breathe–stay relaxed–breathe–Our father who art in heaven–breathe–hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come–relax–thy will be done–breathe–take the line–on earth as it is in heaven–relax–forgive us our trespasses–set–as we forgive–here we go.


“Come on Michael, we’re going to miss her,” Steven called.
“I’m coming.”
“Steven, what time is it?” Roger asked.
“Almost ten and a half. The leader should be just going into the woods.”
“Where’s the finish?” asked Michael.
“Just a bit further from here–over that hill right along the river,” Steven replied.
“Then why are we hurrying?”
“So we can get a decent spot along the finish,” replied Roger.
“There are going to be a lot of people there. This is a big meet,” explained Steven.
“At last–here come the leaders,” said Roger.
“I think the wind is dying down,” remarked Steven.
“Is that her?” asked Michael.
“No, Caroline has tights on. That would be Kara.”
“God, isn’t she cold?” Michael remarked.
“Probably not.”
“Yeah, endorphins are great,” Roger added.
“There she is–looks like another top twenty finish. How many have you counted Roger?”
“She’ll probably pick up at least two in the last two-hundred.”


Caroline finished the race. She passed three runners in the last one hundred yards and placed fourteenth. She slowed down to a walk after crossing the finish line and started to walk to the end of the chute to collect her place card. Halfway through she collapsed.


“Are you all right?” asked a voice.
“Here let’s get her up and through,” said a second.
“Can you put your arm around me–good. I’ll get her place card.”
“I’ll try to find her coach.”
“What happened?” asked a third.
“She collapsed.”
“Her lungs?”
“From the cold air.”
“No, I don’t think so. Here, help me. Get her card.”
“Got it.”
“Is she all right?” asked a woman’s voice.
“I don’t know, she hasn’t said a word.”
“I think she’s trying–“
“Let me get her number and school. Fourteenth, Bradely, okay.”
“Come on, we’ll go over to the medics.”
“What do you have?” asked another.
“Don’t know, she collapsed at the line.”
“Has someone gone to get her coach?”
“Okay, let’s get her down and see what we’ve got. Now honey, where does it hurt? Abdomen? Hip?”
“My legs.”
“Upper or lower?”
“Ah. Can I take off your spikes?”
“There it is, she’s bleeding there on her ankle.”
“Spiked–happens a lot. Another runner must have raked against her at the start. Probably doesn’t even feel it.”
“Oh. Well, I’d better get back to the finish. I’ll send her coach over to you.”
“Sure, thanks. Let me get that other shoe off. I’m sorry does that hurt. I’ll move as slow as I can. You’ve had problems with you shins?”
“A little.”
“What’s a little?”
“Sore, need to ice them.”
“Any sharp pains when you run or climb stairs?”
“Your arches are taped?”
“Does it help?”
“Used to.”
” Just Anti-Inflammatories.”
“Any today.”
“No, couldn’t with the race.”
“Okay, let’s see. Tell me where it hurts.” 


“Hi mom.”
“Hi sweetie. How are you?”
“Are you going to be able to get to your classes all right.”
“Yeah, Steven is in one of my classes so he walks there with me. As long as I take it slow I don’t have any problems getting there.”
“Do you have another class with Crazy Harris?”
“No, this term it’s Early Modern History with Professor DuBois. From the crucifixion to colonization.”
“Oh fun.”
“Yeah another memorization fest like my last history course. After that I have my critical theory class and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have a Spanish class and an introductory Sociology class.”
“What class do you and Steven have together? “
“Sociology. Fact we have a mid-term Wednesday. He’s coming over here tonight to study.”
“Oh, what time.”
“He should be here any time.”


“Roger, when’s your next game?” asked Elise.
“Wednesday? Why–think you’ll come.”
“Funny–you know I have rehearsal, but I was going to ask Steven to take Caroline.”
“I just thought it would be a good idea.”
“How’s she doing?”
“All right I guess. She hasn’t said much.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean she doesn’t say much.”
“She seems fine when I’m over.”
“She’s always at the computer when you’re over–and when she’s at the computer she’s usually playing solitaire.”
“Steven’s starting to worry as well. He’s tried all sorts of things–He helped her get to class when she was still on crutches. He bought her a copy of The Student’s Annotated Joyce, he takes her out to the movies every weekend. He even made her dinner–although I think that was an attempt at comic relief.”
“And nothing. She’s just so quiet it’s like she’s barely there sometimes. I haven’t heard her laugh in ages–take that back. We saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer and she laughed at the end when Paul Rueben was dying.”
“Steven hasn’t mention anything. I just thought he and she were finally getting together.”
“Does she talk to him?”
“I don’t know.”

“Steven, have you talked with Caroline lately?” Roger asked.
“We went up for ice-cream last night.”
“What’d she say?”
“About what?”
“Don’t think I understand.”
“Has she said anything–you know about what happened. Has she been herself?”
“Yes, why?”
“Well Elise is kind of worried. Caroline just hasn’t seemed the same.”
“No, she hasn’t.”
“But you just said she was.”
“Oh she’s still Caroline.”
“Didn’t Elise tell you about the X-ray’s?”
“Guess not–okay. Caroline had all those tests done last November, right? They gave her copies of the X-rays to give to her doctor back home when she went home at Christmas break. Well, she showed them to me, and, well, I’m still amazed she’s walking.”
“That bad?”
“One clean fracture that should’ve broken her leg. Her left leg wasn’t as bad–there were two stress fractures, but they were fairly small. Then there was the inflammation of the muscles around her bones….”
“Will she be able to run again?”

“Hi Jack.”
“Hi sweet heart. How are you?”
“How are classes.”
“They’re there.”
“What are you taking this term?”
“On last history class, some Spanish, a boring English class and a genetics course.”
“Is that too much”
“No, it’s fine.”
“When do you come home for the summer.”
“Actually I’ve been thinking of getting a job and staying down here.”

“What time is the performance?” Roger asked.
“Eight o’clock,” replied Elise.
“When do you need to be there?”
“Do you want a ride over?”
“That’s be great.”
“Have you and Caroline managed to find an apartment for next fall?”
“No, actually that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Caroline is looking for her own place.”
“We’re not going to be sharing an apartment until the year after next. See I got accepted at University College for next year.”
“You’re kidding!”
“No, you’re not angry?”
“It’s for a year?”
“Oh no, we’ll manage.”


In the dark
of the early morning
no birds sang
no light reached out
into the nothingness.
Everything was quiet.

Only a vague scattering of thoughts.
Everything has to have an ending.
How can a thing begin
if an ending did not come before it.
And the Darkness had said,
“What is light without dark.
I am a part of you all.”

She did not want to believe that,
but what else was there. 

Part III

© 1997-2001 stega