Waking Olivia(3)

By: Elizabeth O Roark



I don’t want that girl on my team.

From the moment she walked through Peter’s door, I knew it. The music from “Jaws” could have been playing and it wouldn’t have felt more ominous.

It’s mind-boggling that Peter brought her onto the team at all. She took a bat to another member of her own team, for Christ's sake. Even if her talent could make up for that, she’s hit-or-miss at best. Moments of brilliance followed by months and months of mediocrity.

“She’s nothing but trouble,” I tell him after she’s gone. I try to make my voice neutral, try to disguise my vehemence because even I realize that it exceeds anything close to reasonable.

"You need a frontrunner," Peter says. "Someone who's going to make your girls think they've got a shot. Someone they're going to work for."

Peter is the one who's been doing my job for 25 years, who's made a national—hell, an international name for himself. He could have left us for a Division 1 school decades ago. Peter is the expert.

But Jesus, this time he's just wrong.

"We've got Betsy," I say. His snort of derision says it all: Everyone hates Betsy. She’s arrogant, a bully, and only marginally faster than the other girls but acting like she’s the star. Everyone's just too scared of her to say otherwise.

"Okay, but Finnegan? You think she’s going to inspire loyalty? She makes Betsy sound like Mother Teresa."

"Have you ever seen her run?” he asks.

I shake my head. I’d graduated from college two years before she entered. I heard her name a few years ago when she was a freshman and people thought she was the next big thing. And then the whispers faded and everyone forgot, including me. I wish I could have continued forgetting.

"She's unbelievable.” He sounds slightly awestruck. "When she wants to be, she makes the rest of the field look like they're in slow motion.”

“Well, she hasn't been unbelievable in a long time," I counter, "and she sure as hell doesn't seem like the type who pulls people together."

Peter smiles. "Who better to teach her how to do it than you?”

It was not a job I wanted, and now that I’ve seen her it’s really not a job I want. That girl isn't just trouble of the not-a-team-player, not-a-reliable-runner variety. She's trouble of the devious, manipulative, too-fucking-hot-for-her-own good variety. Sashaying into Peter's office like a runway model, all long-legged and tan with big green eyes and a knowing smile. She's the kind of girl who causes trouble merely by existing, and then makes sure to cause more.

And the last thing I need right now is more trouble.



I'm in a car, and we're going too fast. The street is narrow, and with the cars parked on either side of the road there are points where we barely squeeze through. There's a four-way stop at the end of every block, but we only slow at some of them. I watch my mother’s shoulders stiffen, her body pushing backward into her seat. My brother takes my hand and squeezes it once, hard, preparing me for pain.

I see the woman in the intersection. A navy blue dress and swollen ankles. I see her before she sees me, and when she does, we both know what happens next. Her eyes meet mine and we both know.

Her body flies up over the hood. The blood is there, on the windshield, a splatter of it like modern art, with such immediacy it almost seems like she must have been bleeding before we hit her. We slam on the brakes and she goes flying forward. And then the car lurches over the top of her like an oversized speed bump.

My mother turns to me then, her eyes wide with fear, sick with it. Suddenly we are in her room.

"Run," she whispers. “Hide in the woods.”

So I run.

I run as hard as I possibly can, desperate and hopeless at once.

The woods, the woods, the woods. It’s a single phrase burned into my brain.

Get to the woods.

I’m nothing but my desire to do what she’s told me to do as if it can fix everything. I run and run, knowing he's behind me, knowing that the blood pouring down my back is only the start, knowing that I’ve done something very, very wrong, and when I stop it will all catch up with me.

I wake.

Except I don’t wake in my new apartment. I’m on a street I've never seen before, wearing the shorts and tank I fell asleep in. I’m barefoot now because I never, ever manage to keep shoes on my feet when I sleep. I have no idea where I am. The sun's not out yet but the sky has the promise of it, its black softened with expectation. My heart's still beating hard from the run, from the terror.

"Son of a bitch," I mutter. Now I've got to find my way home.

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