The Race-track

Funnily, they never hit it off on their first meeting.

She hated his guts, the instant she saw him. He hated the sight of her, the instant he laid his eyes upon her. Their first meeting would have come down to a fist-fight if they weren’t restrained by some sensible thinking, which was done by their friends.

Neither of them ever knew the reason for that fight. When they went home and thought about it, neither of them could remember what had started it all, but like all good girls and boys, like members of a civilized society, they just believed, no, they assumed there had been a reason and they forgot all about it. What it eventually transpired into was this: every time they met after the fight, they looked daggers at each other.

And so the days went on.

Fate, it seems, has a strong liking for upsets. She is always out to lure people into traps, her most favorite trap being love.

It was a chilly saturday morning. Winter had just knocked on the door of time and was holding open, the door for autumn to leave. The trees had shed all of their leaves except for the trademark few, which they wouldn’t shed to indicate their stubbornness to begin all over again when spring would call. The race-track was almost empty. No one in his right mind would dare to venture out in such a cold. And the race track was, by all standards, a distant bet.

A rational onlooker would have been surprised by the silhouette pounding across the track at that time of the morning. (Of course, an onlooker would not be rational, if he were to be found in such adverse conditions himself, would he?) But there it was.

He started his fifth timed run. He had already broken his records four times. But he would realized that only when he returned to the gym for his showers. He just wasn’t concentrating on the time. Or his timed runs for that matter. His mind had been occupied by something. The problem was he did not know what. His child-like brain refused to acknowledge the existence of youth and his mind refused to give up. He got befuddled trying to think about what exactly it was, that was bothering him. He tried to think about it clearly, but it didn’t help. He tried to think in an obtuse manner, no luck there either. Then he decided to sit down and analyse what had caused him to get so aggravated.

He stopped mid way in his run and looked around for a place to sit. There were a few starters’ blocks that had been kept in preparation for the University finals that were starting in a weeks time. He walked over to them and sat down. And then, at that very moment, she sneezed.

He stood up, half startled and half surprised. He had never expected anyone to be there at this time of the day. Unsure of what to say he said the first thing that came to his mind.

“Who sneezed?”

A shadowy figure appeared from behind the starting blocks. She had guilt written all over her face. But it was not visible to him yet. She tried to steel herself not to show it to him. But she knew she wouldn’t succeed at that.

“Who are you?” His voice had returned back to normalcy now. There was no hint of the surprise and startle that had existed a few moments ago.

She moved slightly and came into the light. She removed the cloth she had used to cover her face to protect herself from the chill and let him see her.

He looked at her, a thousand thoughts running in his head. Everyone of his questions was being answered. The answers were coming in bursts and torrents. Suddenly everything was becoming crystal clear. He fought to keep up with the thousand revelations that had burst into his head all at the same time, like a thousand light-bulbs going on at the same time.

At that precise moment, the sun chose to make a dramatic appearance over the horizon. The first rays of the sunlight broke on the race-track. A warmth ran awash over the two of them and it felt good. As if in cue, she came closer to him and rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes.

She had answered his question. And more.

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