running buddies

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the story is about a boy that runs in a race with his friend

Submitted: May 26, 2018

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Submitted: May 15, 2018

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RUNNING BUDDIES

By Chris Clarkson

 

It was the beginning of summer vacation, and I, Christian

Jackson, planned to spend my summer running. I’m not on any

track team, but running is in my blood. Satisfied by my

morning’s breakfast of a banana milkshake and peach yogurt,

I was ready to run,  Paula Yard lives next door to me, and she

is my running buddy. Paula is a brunette with her straight

hair and bangs. Just thinking about Paula’s attractive looks

made me want to run with her side by side, so I raced to the

videophone and dialed her number. After two rings, Paula’s

face appeared on the screen.

“Hello,” Hearing Paula’s voice and seeing her face made

her smile.

“It’s me, Paula,” I said.

“Oh, hi there, Chris. What’s up?”

“I was wondering if you want to go running.”

“I’d love to run with you. I’ll be right out.”

“See you outside, Paula.” I hung up and went downstairs

where my mother was putting dishes in the dishwasher.

“Mom, Paula and I are going to run at the track at the high

school,” I answered. “My best place to run is at the Andrew

Jackson High School.”

“That’s fantastic, Chris,” said my mother. “Have fun.” By

the time I got outside, Paula was waiting for me wearing blue

and white striped jogging shorts, and a sleveless jogging shirt

with white stars on a red background. Her left foot Nike

running shoe was red, and her right foot one was blue.

“Nice fashion statement,” I complimented her.

“Thanks, Chris,” Paula replied. “You know my Yankee

Doodle spirit had to be expressed somehow.” We walked down

the street towards the Andrew Jackson High School. Paula’s

father was the freshman football coach there, and she once

attended classes at the Andrew Jackson High School. Paula

and I did some stretching exercises to warm up. The two of us

did 50 jumping jacks and 25 leg lifts. Then Anne and I

marched in place for 20 minutes. When it was time to run, we

ran clockwise around the track, kicking up dust like running

horses. Our arms were pumping like synchronized engines.

After three laps around the track, Paula and I collapsed on the

bleacher seats.

“Are you on the track team when school is in session?” I

questioned Paula.

“We don’t eat fried foods at our house, either. My mother

and I eat grilled foods at our house. Believe it or not, we’ve

never eaten at a fast food restaurant.”

“Our bodies are healthier because we eat right,

Christian.”

“You’re right about that.” After recovering from our first

three laps, we were ready to run some more. Once again, Paula

and I ran three laps, this time in a counterclockwise pattern.

After that, it was back to the bleacher seats to catch our

breath.

“My older sister Jennifer runs in Special Olympics,” Paula

told me after a few minutes rest.

“She does?” I asked her. “In what event?”

“Jennifer runs the 800 meters, and she runs so well that

she always comes in first place. Would you like to see Jennifer

run in the Ohio Special Olympics?”

“Absolutely! I’d love to see Jenny run in the Ohio Special

Olympics.”

“I’ll let you know when it’s scheduled. She’ll be so happy

you’ll be cheering her on.” Paula smiled. I felt on top of the

world. After we rested awhile, Paula and I went back to the

track. We ran two more clockwise laps, then we were so tired

we knew we had to stop. Paula and I conserved just enough

energy to walk home. By the time we arrived at my house, we

spent all our energies.

“Chris, I need to rest awhile,” said Paula.

“Me too!” I responded. “I’ll see you later.”

“Not if I see you first!” Paula teased, and laughed as we

hugged before parting ways. I went inside my house.

“Mom, I’m back!” I announced as I entered the house,

then went upstairs in my bedroom. Posters of jazz vocalist

Jodie McNeil decorated my room. One poster showed her near

a boat wearing white Keds canvas deck sneakers, white khaki

pants, a red and white striped shirt, and a blue raincoat.

Another pictured her sitting on a red 1957 Ford Thunderbird

convertible wearing penny loafers, blue jeans, and a white

shirt. I had another poster that showed Jodie in a bikini at

the beach. Her bikini was red and white with a red maple leaf

centered in the middle. The Canadian flag never looked so

good in my opinion. Jodie McNeil was from Canada. British

Columbia, as a matter of fact. Posters of Jodie McNeil sitting

next to her piano dressed in cowgirl boots and a cowgirl’s hat,

and wearing her white Keds thin soled sneakers, blue jean

shorts, and a sleveless shirt completed my collection. Jodie

McNeil was Paul McNaughton’s wife, but I appreciated her

decorating her bedroom walls. When I plopped down on my

waterbed, I enjoyed the ocean like waves, rocking until I

drifted to sleep.

Every day, Paula and I arranged to go running together

at the Andrew Jackson High School. The two of us would walk

to the high school football field, do warm up exercises, and

take BREATHERS on the bleacher seats after every third lap.

A few weeks into our summer routine, as we walked towards

the track, Paula shared some exciting news.

“Chris, have I got some very important news for us,”

Paula smiled at me.

“What is it?” I asked her.

“There’s going to be a race in Franklin Heights in two

weeks. It’s the Franklin Heights Marathon. The grand prize

is $2,500 tax free.

“$2,500 TAX FREE?”

“That’s right, Christian! Isn’t it exciting? I would love to

win that race and the prize. There’ll be fierce competition. If

either of us win, that’s fine; but if we don’t, it’s not the end of

the world. There’s no guarantee that we’ll win, but with all the

running that we do, we might. I’ve already gone to the library

and got some registration forms. We can’t win if we don’t

register.”

“Thanks for getting the forms for me, Paula.”

“Remind me to give them to you when we’re back home. If

we really want to win, we’re going to have to do a lot more

running and practice.”

“We’ll do it, Paula.”

“All right, Chris,” Paula answered me as we walked

toward the track. We wanted to win the prize badly, so Paula

and I were willing to exercise and run as much as we could.

“What would you do if you won the race and prize

money?” Paula asked during one of our breather breaks on the

bleacher.

“I would spend some of the money on round trip bus fare

to either New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., or

Chicago,” I answered her.

“Those are awesome places, Christian. I’ve always wanted

to go on a Greyhound bus trip. I don’t care for flying. It’s too

expensive.” After Paula and I rested for awhile, the two of us

repeated our routine. We ran three laps around the track. As

running buddies, the two of us ran together, not worrying who

was ahead, yet offering each other some competition.

“If you win the prize money, will you take me on a trip

with you?” Paula asked me when we were again in the

bleacher seats.

“Absolutely,” I answered her. “I’d love to take you on a bus

trip with me.”

“That’s so nice of you, Chris. And I’ll take you if I win.”

“How do you think we did?” I asked Paula as we headed

home.

“We are totally awesome running buddies,” Paula 

responded. “Keep it up and we might win the prize.” When we

arrived at my house, my mother opened the door for us.

“How was the running?” asked my mother.

“I believe we are ready to ‘run it to win it’ in the

Grandview Marathon,” I answered.

“That’s awesome, Christian,” replied my mother. “With all

that running that you and Paula do, you two might win the

$2,500 prize tax free.”

“You look tired,” said Paula. “Why don’t you go upstairs

and rest.”

“I will,” I answered. “See you later.”

“See you tomorrow,” said Paula. “I’ll bring the registration

forms later, Christian.” The next morning, true to her word,

Paula brought the registration forms over. Paula filled both

our forms, and we put them in the mail on the way to the track

that same day. Each day, Paula and I met to practice running

and winning the race. Weeks passed, and then the day of the

Franklin Heights Marathon arrived! A good night sleep and

dreams of winning the race energized me. I was ready to ‘run

it to win it’ as Paula once said.

“You’re going to do your best,” encouraged my mother.

“Don’t worry about winning the prize.”

“I’m not worried, Mom,” I answered her.

“If you win the race, that’s fine; but like Paula and I told

you, if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. It’s doing your

utmost that counts.”

“I know, Mom.” There was a knock at the door. I opened

the door. Paula was there in her blue and white striped jogging

shorts, and her sleveless shirt with white stars on a red

background. Paula’s left foot running shoe was red, and her

right foot running shoe was blue.

“Are we ready to run?” asked Paula.

“We’re ready to run and win!” I answered.

“Have fun,” said my mother. “I’ll see you when you get

back.”

“Bye!” I said. I waved to my mother as Paula and I got in

the back seat of her mother’s black Ford Expedition SUV.

“Are you two ready to run like the wind?” asked Mrs.

Yard.

“We’re ready,” answered Paula. “Let’s go!” The three of us

listened to a Jodie McNeil CD on our way to the marathon.

“I love Jodie McNeil,” I told Mrs. Yard.

“I wish I knew Jodie McNeil’s phone number,” I said.

“You’d be pretty popular if you knew Jodie McNeil’s phone

number,” Mrs. Yard answered. “If I knew McNeil’s phone

number, I’d be in a celebrity newsmagazine for sure.” When

the three of us arrived in Franklin Heights, Mrs. Yard

parked at a parking lot where a few runners were stretching

and doing warm up exercises, by the time Mrs. Yard pulled

her Ford Expedition in a space and got out. Paula and I went

to the registration desk. A heavy set Asian woman with her

hair in a ponytail gave us a tag with numbers. Paula and I

helped each other put our tags on our shirts. Then the two of

us went to the starting line. It was a good thing we were early.

Paula and I wanted to be one of the frontrunners. The two of

us stretched and did warm up exercises while we waited for

the race to begin.

“RUNNERS, ON YOUR MARK!” said an African

American man by the name of Colin Drysdale. “GET SET!

GO!” Colin Drysdale’s shouts disappeared by the sound of

gunfire. Paula and I ran like the wind. We ran like racehorses;

Paula and I ran like well tuned engines. We ran, imagining the

finish line and visualizing the prize. Spectators encouraged us

as we ran. Volunteers passed out Gatorade; Our closest

competitors made a right turn at the intersection of Danielson

Street and North McNaughton Avenue. Paula and I were way

ahead of the pack. It looked as if one of us would win the race.

“How are we doing?” I asked Paula.

“Awesome,” answered Paula. The course ran down a hill,

past the Franklin Heights municipal offices. Police officers

and firefighters waved at us. Then we made a right turn on

Kennedy Avenue. We ran past tennis courts and an apartment

complex. Apartment dwellers waved at the runners, cheering

us on. Tennis players waved too. We ran past a secluded area.

The runners made a right turn on Marshall Avenue. Just as

we reached the intersection of West Marshall and South

Brooklyn Street, Paula tripped, and I saw her fall down to the

ground! In seconds, I was by her side, helping her to her feet.

Both her knees were scratched and bleeding, and her ankle

was twisted.

“Go on, Chris!” said Paula. “You’ve still got a chance to

win. Go on. Go now!”

“Who are you talking to, Paula?” I asked her. “Remember,

we’re running buddies. Don’t you know you are more

important to me than winning any race or prize?” I helped

Paula hobble to the first aid station.

“My knees are bleeding,” said Paula. “And my ankle hurts

too.”

“Let me take a look at them,” answered a nurse. Paula’s

left ankle was swollen and bruised. “I have a cold wrap to put

on your ankle. It may be sprained, but I don’t think it’s broken.

You might want to get X-rays when the swelling goes down.”

“When I get home, I’ll put some ice on my ankle,” said

Paula.

“You do that,” said the nurse. “Meanwhile, we’ll fix your

knees in a jiffy.” The nurse got some alcohol and dabbled it on

Paula’s knees.

“Ow!” yelled Paula as the alcohol did its job. After the

nurse put some bandages on her knees, Paula got up. Her left

ankle hurt badly.

“Oh well, Paula,” I answered her. “We might not win the

race, but we can finish it. Are you ready to try?”

“I’m ready to try, Christian,” Paula told me. Paula and I

continued the race. Paula walked towards the finish line. We

were approaching the finish line, when an African American

woman with a wig broke through the ribbon. The mayor by the

name of Stephanie Palin presented her with an envelope

containing the prize money.

“Congratulations, ma’am,” Mayor Palin greeted her. “You

really knew how to pull it off before anyone else did.”

“Thanks, but I’m afraid that I can’t accept the entire

prize,” the woman responded.

“But you won,” answered Mayor Palin.

“It’s not that I don’t want the money,” answered the

woman. “It’s just that when one of the runners tripped and

hurt her ankle, this young man was there for her to help her

receive first aid. What’s your name?”

“My name’s Christian Jackson,” I said. “And this is my

neighbor Paula Yard.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” answered Paula.  She shook hands

with the woman. “What is your name?”

“My name’s Catherine Rice,” she said to us. “When you

helped Paula get to the nurse for first aid, you were a good

samaritan. And because you were there for your neighbor

Paula Yard, I’m going to give you half the prize.” The woman

reached into the envelope and gave me half of her winnings.

“Thank you so much!” I answered. I kicked my feet up in

the air.

“What are you going to do with the prize money?” asked

Mayor Palin.

“I’m going to spend some money on a trip to New York,” I

answered. “I decided to spend it on a round trip bus fare to

New York. And Paula and her family are going with us.”

“That’s so nice to think of me,” answered Paula. “We’ll

have ourselves a good time up there.”

“I’m sure you will,” answered Mayor Palin. “It’s been nice

meeting you and Paula. I’ll catch you two later. Have fun in

New York.”

“We will,” answered Paula. “Take care.”

“You too,” answered Catherine Rice. Paula and I headed

towards Mrs. Yard’s SUV, then climbed into the back.

“How was the race?” asked Mrs. Yard.

“We ran an awesome race,” I told her. “I have some good

news and some bad news.”

“What’s the bad news?” asked Mrs. Yard.

“The bad news was that we were ahead, but Paula tripped

and hurt her knees and her ankle, so that set us back, so

neither of us won the race,” I told Mrs. Yard.

“I’m sorry to hear that, Christian,” said Mrs. Yard.

“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.”

“But the good news is that the woman who run the race

let Christian have half the prize for being a good samaritan,”

answered Paula.

“That’s some good news, all right,” exclaimed Mrs. Yard.

“We’re going to spend the money on a bus trip to New

York,” announced Paula.

“Good for you!” responded Mrs. Yard. “That’s awesome!”

We drove towards our house, listening to KRFK radio. KRFK’s

smooth jazz format was perfect for a summer day. When we

arrived at my house, my mother was washing a car, a silver

1958 Chevrolet Impala two door hardtop.

“We’re back, Mom,” I said as I opened up my pouch pocket

revealing the prize money.

“You won the race?” asked my mother.

“No, the winner gave Christian $1,250 for being a good

samaritan,” Paula told my mother.

“See, Paula and Christian were ahead, but Paula tripped,

and she hurt her ankle, which set them back,” answered Mrs.

Yard.

“Catherine Rice won the race, but when she saw that

Christian was a good samaritan for standing by Paula,

Catherine gave Christian half of the prize money.”

“That’s so nice of her,” answered my mother as I gave her

a hug.

“Chris and I are going to spend the winnings on a round

trip bus fare to New York,” answered Paula. “We’re going to

stay at a fancy hotel with a continental breakfast.”

“That’s so nice of you, Christian,” said my mother.

“And we’re going to see some sights while we’re in New

York,” said Mrs. Yard. “Aren’t we, Christian.”

“We sure are, Paula,” I answered. “I’d like to see a

Broadway show.”

“That can be done,” said Paula. “I love Broadway shows.”

“Listen, you and Paula ran a grueling race Christian,”

said my mother. “You both must be tired.”

“You go in the house and get some rest,” insisted Paula.

“All right, Paula,” I said as I hugged her. “I’ll see you

tomorrow.” I waved at Paula and her mother as I went in the

house and walked up the stairs yawning. All that running

made me tired. In my room, I plopped down on my waterbed,

creating waves to rock me to sleep. Before I drifted to sleep, I

thought about how I enjoyed running with Paula in the

marathon. Would I run in other races? Maybe I would, if Paula

would be my running buddy. Next time, I hoped to win the

race, no matter how much the prize would be.

 

This story is dedicated to the Upper Arlington class of 1973, 1978, 1985, 1986, 1992, and 1995, the Worthington High School class of 1987, the Bishop Watterson High School class of 1989, and the Bexley High School class of 1976, who enjoy running a lot. ©2018 by Chris Clarkson

nice of you, Christian,” said my mother.

“And we’re going to see some sights while we’re in New

York,” said Mrs. Yard. “Aren’t we, Christian.”

“We sure are, Paula,” I answered. “I’d like to see a

Broadway show.”

“That can be done,” said Paula. “I love Broadway shows.”

“Listen, you and Paula ran a grueling race Christian,”

said my mother. “You both must be tired.”

“You go in the house and get some rest,” insisted Paula.

“All right, Paula,” I said as I hugged her. “I’ll see you

tomorrow.” I waved at Paula and her mother as I went in the

house and walked up the stairs yawning. All that running

made me tired. In my room, I plopped down on my waterbed,

creating waves to rock me to sleep. Before I drifted to sleep, I

thought about how I enjoyed running with Paula in the

marathon. Would I run in other races? Maybe I would, if Paula

would be my running buddy. Next time, I hoped to win the

race, no matter how much the prize would be.

This story is dedicated to the Upper Arlington class of 1973, 1978, 1985, 1986, 1992, and 1995, the Worthington High School class of 1987, the Bishop Watterson High School class of 1989, and the Bexley High School class of 1976, who enjoy running a lot. ©2018 by Chris Clarkson

 


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