Maintaining Balance

drew-farwell-539583-unsplashI know good form. Your flexors and glutes should do the majority of the work in order to lift the legs. Your feet should fall in a regular cadence. A strong core will hold you so you don’t fold, maintaining minimal movement through the torso. Stability is key.

I remember Jamie McKinley. Fists bunched and arms pumping, his face is a deep pink bloom in the thin drizzle as he puffs out his lap along the painted outline of the soccer pitch. He thunders along, a good five hundred meters behind the rest of the boys. As he gets closer, I see the soft orb of his stomach jiggling in the gap where his too-small t-shirt doesn’t quite meet his too-small shorts. At the corner of the field, he turns his head towards a group of spectators. He waves wildly as he calls out, “Daaaaaad!”

I wanted to look away.

Faint cheers for the first finishers float across the field and a man mirrors Jamie’s gesture. As he reaches into the air, his tight, torn shirt lifts to reveal his generous stomach spilling over the waistband of his baggy-kneed jeans.

“That’s my boy!”

I remember Jamie pushing his shoulders back, the sureness in his plump little legs as he drove his burst trainers into the ground and I wonder what would’ve happened if his Dad had hollered, “You’ve got no style, son!” I picture Jamie running into that gust of words, a finish line come early. I imagine him faltering into a few wandering steps before curling his arms across his wilting face and folding towards the damp earth.

In the bush, my running is rhythmless. Broken branches tear my skin as I skid on mud and dead fronds, as I kick roots and rocks. I don’t know what keeps me on my feet but sometimes there’s a firmness where the earth springs me back. Sometimes wide, wet leaves wipe my face.

I hurtle on. Graceless. Imperfect.

Published by Reflex Fiction, February 2018

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