Daniella scratched her mosquito bite, groaning in satisfaction as the itch reduced. She then rubbed her rug burn, which she had gotten the previous day. Daniella tapped her foot to the rhythm of the clock. She heard the doorbell ring, and she shot to the door. She saw her best friend Caleb. Daniella smiled and hugged him.
“Hey, hey! How far are we running today?” Daniella pretended to think.
“How about ten miles.” Caleb groaned.
“That’s way too short.” Daniella grinned at him. “We will run ten miles now, and maybe ten miles in the afternoon.” Caleb pretended to dance, his green eyes sparkling.
“When is the race again?” She punched him.
“I tell you this every day! It’s next month!”
She was proud of Caleb. When they first started training a couple months ago, Caleb could barely run a mile. Now that he was twenty, he insisted that he was way more fit. They grabbed their small backpacks, and stuffed them with water, and face cloths. They tried to keep it as light as possible, because for the marathon they would bring a backpack. They walked outside to Daniella’s driveway and got ready. First, they did their pre-run ritual. They grabbed the first water bottle, and took a swig. Careful not to make the water drain past the sticker. They then arranged their four water bottles and clothes. Two bottles on the bottom, two stacked on top. They then wrapped the cloth around the bottles, and zipped it, careful not to knock their tower over. They turned to face each other and grinned. Then they did their handshake. High five, fist pump, elbow bump. Even though they were twenty, they acted like little girls sharing a secret. Caleb laughed and did what he always did. He smacked his thigh,
“Look at these leg muscles.” Then he cracked up, and took off.
Daniella stared after him, then rolled her eyes, and followed him. They raced past pedestrians and cars. Daniella loved the way the wind felt in her hair. It felt like magic. Running sucked every feeling out of her, and it felt amazing. Her long muscular legs barely touched the ground. It felt like she was flying. They ran miles after miles, enchanted by the sights of the mountains, and the beautiful waterfalls. As they reached Daniella’s house they collapsed on a lawn chair.
“Do we really think we can run 24 miles?” Panted Daniella. Caleb pondered this idea.
“Well we have run twenty miles in a day, so I think we can do it!” Daniella smiled, and went into her little house. She searched through the freezer until she found a tub of strawberry ice cream.
“Ooh! Is that for me?” Caleb snatched it from her and popped open the plastic lid.
He then stuck his whole face in the tub, and licked up ice cream. Daniella gagged, and turned away.
“Sometimes I think you are still a toddler.” He grinned sheepishly.
“I have to go home, need to work on a project.” She sighed and helped him wipe ice cream off his face.
“You can come to work at the office.” He shrugged.
“I don’t write. I couldn’t stay in an office the whole day on my computer just writing.”
Writing meant so much to her. She had already published three books, and she entered in loads of contests. She shrugged. Friends have their differences. She sat at her little desk in the corner of the room, pondering for an idea to write. She watched as Caleb got in his car, and drove away. It always saddened her to see him leave. She loved him. They had been friends for as long as Daniella remembered. It would bring them even closer to do this race. Daniella gasped. She’d write about the race. Daniella roughly scratched out a storyline. She worked on this particular story for weeks to come.
After training for a long time, the race had finally come. They ran a quick three-mile jog before their race. As they finished their run, they jogged to the starting line. A large clock was ticking down the minutes until the race started. Ten minutes. Daniella glanced at Caleb who nodded solemnly. They quickly did their ritual, then started stretching. Daniella glanced at the sideline, and to her joy she saw her parents. Caleb had the same excited face when he saw his parents.
“We stay together no matter what.” She swore. Caleb nodded excitedly, like a child opening presents.
“We at least want to get in the top 30.” Daniella glanced around. There were about 200 other people.
The huge banner over the starting line read, MONTANA MARATHON! BREAST CANCER AWARENESS!! The timer ticked down to one minute. Daniella grasped Caleb’s hand, feeling herself already sweating.
“We can do it,” Caleb whispered, as he squeezed her hand.
“I don’t want to hear you complaining about this being too short,” She teased him. He scoffed.
“I might complain about it being to LONG!” They shared smiles.
He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips. “For luck.” Daniella touched her lips, blushing. The clock ticked down. 10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1!!!!! They took off at a steady pace, taking long strides. Daniella breathed in the musky air. She felt so free. The racers had a pretty far distance from each other now, and they passed the one-mile mark.
“I can’t wait for the oranges,” Puffed Caleb. She chuckled.
They ran passed lakes, and emerald forests. The sun dipping below the mountains, splashing the sky with a beautiful painting. They finally reached the five-mile mark. Daniella gasped for breath, as she took a swig from her plastic bottle, and grabbed an orange. She then clicked on her headlamp. They ran for hours, until Caleb had to stop.
“I have to tie my shoes, keep going!” Daniella shook her head.
“Remember, we are staying together!” He sighed and turned to face her.
“We are just wasting time right now! I want at least one of us to get in the top thirty! I will catch up!!”
She sighed and hugged him tightly. She took off. She ran by herself for a long time and kept waiting for Caleb to come to catch up.
We were supposed to finish together!
Daniella thought angrily as she approached the finish line. Anger ebbed through every muscle in her body as she crossed the line. Daniella did feel accomplished, but she was so sad. A cold metal slid over her neck. She plastered a fake grin on her face. Daniella pulled over a metal chair to wait. Her mother hugged her, and said she understood. Daniella waited until ten at night. Caleb never crossed the finish line.
He must have gotten tired, and quit. That’s not like Caleb though! She started to silently cry, as she climbed into her car.
40 YEARS LATER.
Daniella opened the wooden door to the porch. It creaked, and groaned as it opened. She sat down on her wooden rocking chair and picked up her recent knitting. Her husband George came out.
“You are still looking for that boy, aren’t you?”
He sat down next to Daniella, and put on his reading glasses, as he picked up the newspaper. Daniella nodded and stood up slowly. She grabbed the box, and card, and placed them on the porch step. Today would have been his 60th birthday, along with Daniella’s.
“He is not coming back,” George said, gently taking hold of Daniella’s face. Tears trickled down her wrinkly face.
“George, one thing I have learned is never to give up. I have been waiting for 40 years.” She whispered. 40 years the police searched, and found nothing. He smiled sadly, and kissed her on the forehead, green eyes just like Caleb’s.
He walked inside. Daniella traced her fingers over the dusty windows, and murmured, “Wish you were here.”