Waking Olivia(8)

By: Elizabeth O Roark



"I go by Finn," I hiss. He's just calling me Olivia to fuck with me at this point. "And she started it."

"And was it true? Are you here because you're not D1 material?"

"No," I snap.

"Then act like it," he says in disgust.

Asshole. Asshole. Asshole. I just ran sub-fives for that prick and I get nothing but a fucking lecture? I watch Betsy coming in, gasping for air and glaring at me.

Sadly, she's no longer the person on the track I hate most.

I go to the cafeteria with Erin nipping at my heels like the world's most annoying dog. No matter what I do or how appallingly rude I am, this girl can't take a hint.

"That was crazy this morning," says Erin. "I mean you're fast, you know? Like super fast."

I shrug. Am I supposed to feign modesty here? I am fast. I wouldn't be doing this if I weren't. However, I already dislike this expectation. She’s seen me run fast once and she’s already got her hopes up. I could tell her right now that getting hopeful about me is a losing proposition, but I just open up my paper and ignore her instead.

She’s not the only one who noticed, though. At that afternoon’s practice, Erin stands beside me while we wait for Will, as does her friend Nicole. “That was impressive this morning,” says Nicole.

“We totally have a chance at placing this year with you,” agrees Erin.

I feel like I’m suffocating. I don’t want them counting on me. God knows I can’t even count on myself. “It was just one run,” I reply.

Will is walking toward us in a fitted grey V-neck and shorts. It irritates me that I find him so freaking attractive. Knowing what a jerk he is should throw cold water on my hormones but it seems to do the opposite.

Nicole and Erin start to giggle, that kind of secretive girlish giggle, a noise I’m proud to say I’ve never made. “We love the grey shirt,” explains Erin with a lascivious grin.

When I roll my eyes, Nicole looks at me as if I’ve just denied evolution. “You don’t think he’s hot?” she asks.

“Maybe I’m just having a hard time seeing under that thick layer of dickhead he wears,” I reply.

"He's not as bad as you think," Erin argues. "Off the track he's super nice. On the track too, actually."

"Not to me, he's not."

"He gives people what they need." She cocks her head, eyeing me somewhat warily. "No offense, Finn, but he seems to think you need discipline."

If it didn't piss me off so much, I'd probably agree.



He has us do speedwork, and I immediately regret my showboating this morning. I no longer have that buzz of energy that kept me well ahead of Betsy. This afternoon we are neck-and-neck during every 800. We’re both destroyed during the recovery, and then we do it again. But I'm the one Will calls out, of course.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"Running 800s, like you said."

"Really? Because it looks to me like you're racing Betsy."

"Or maybe she's racing me. Why am I the one getting bitched at here?"

“Because I expect more of you."

"You shouldn't."

He looks at me. It’s an assessing look, not cocky or angry but earnest as if he’s trying to decide something. “Yeah,” he finally says sourly, “you’re probably right."

The remainder of the week passes with a few more lectures from Will and not a single compliment. I give him what he wants. I'm fast but I'm not too fast, and I don't race Betsy even though I'd like to pound her into the dirt and stomp on her remains, yet he stands there praising everyone but me. I scowl at him as I pass, but he doesn't even seem to notice. Probably because he assumes I’m not going to be his problem for much longer.

I guess I assume it, too.

If he’s not happy with me right now, then he’s definitely not going to be happy when the real problems begin—when school starts in two weeks and our first meet looms. The stress will lead to nightmares, nightmares will lead to running, and running leads to meets where I perform about as well as a retiree trying out a treadmill for the first time.

I spend my time between our two practices mapping the town and combing the woods, which is where I almost always head during the dreams. I have no idea why I go there, and I don’t really want to know.

Erin continues to follow me to lunch, despite the fact that I've told her I want to eat alone. At this point, her attempts at friendship are flat-out stalking.

“Seriously?” I groan when she sits at my table. “I think I need a restraining order.”

“Restraining orders can only be issued if there's intent to harm,” she quips cheerfully.

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