A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
The following work is the result of an eight-week collaboration with The Chicago City of Learning Young Author Playlist and Hypertext Studio Writing Center. An excerpt of this work is also featured on HYPERtext Magazine.
BY ISAIAH FLORES
I remember the day I finally broke out of my little shell. I was so tired of always being looked over by Coach Buys, as if I was not good enough for him to notice. I had such a desire to improve and prove people wrong. I knew the potential I had and what a good runner I truly was. I always had the thought in the back of my head that I need to show and prove that I deserve that varsity spot next year. On that day, Monday, we had our workout at Marquette Park. We met downstairs in the locker room to change. As I walked into the same blue-floored locker room that I’ve been using for a year now, I knew something was going to be different. Once everyone changed into their shorts and sleeveless shirts, we began our tempo run, with the best leading the way. I was preparing myself mentally for the hard workout with much determination and a feeling of confidence within me. We finally reached the park and got ready to race. We all lined up at the starting line. It was Ruben, Miguel, Jesus, Alex, and me. They were ready to run, determined. We were all in position waiting for the whistle to go off.
Once the race started I automatically went in front of everyone. I kept my pace the same and did my best to control my breathing. I was finally able to release all the thoughts I’ve been having, the pain I was feeling, and the anxiety I had. Constantly worrying about how I am doing in school, if I would ever be happy, if things will get better for me, and if I can keep going and stay strong. I held so much in and was going through so much. The depression and anxiety that had taken over my life and tried taking away my love for running and my will to live. I didn’t think I would ever be this sad, feel this much pain, but was so glad I had a way to take my mind away from the thoughts. As I ran, I didn’t think of anything besides running. I was focused on that and only that; well, I tried my best to. I kept going and going, allowing no one to pass me or even get near me. I kept telling myself, “I can do this,” but the voices in my mind started screaming, “You’re tired, you can’t do this… Do you really think you’re good enough?” I suddenly began to think, “Am I really good enough?” The memories began to come back and the sadness hit me even more. I soon realized that I was running from the thoughts, trying so desperately to be freed from them, even for a minute. I knew when the race was over, everything would come back to me at once. I would be back to reality, but one that I could no longer stand.
I shut the voices up and only focused on finishing the race. I finished the first loop and started to feel the pain in my legs. The sweat that was constantly dripping down my head began to burn my eyes. I knew that I couldn’t let the pain get to me. The cheers of my coach as he saw me leading the way, clapping his hands while saying, “You’ve never looked this good! It’s all going to pay off, you’ll see,” motivated me more. I was nearing to the finish line and sped up, and as I did the pain worsened.
That didn’t stop me though. I finally crossed the finish line and fell immediately to the ground. I stared at the mini tree forest that we just ran through and felt the green grass on my face. My hand was pressed on my hip, which was stinging with pain from that hit I took a few weeks back playing basketball. My coach came to me and picked me up and asked if I was okay. From the look on his face, I knew he was impressed and saw the potential I had. That was a great feeling, and the mad looks on my teammates’ faces since they couldn’t keep up with me was just another victory.
Isaiah Flores attends Eric Solorio Academy High School.