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3:33 Sports Short #24 // So Far by Mindy Misener

Today's pair of 3:33 Sports Shorts both concern one's relation to sports as time passes. Mindy Misener's piece below and Brook Randel's piece "Quitter" both explore loss, albeit in interestingly contradictory yet complementary ways. Enjoy!


I am in first grade and I am running full-tilt after a boy who has—as is the custom—seized and taken off with some girl’s plastic headband. My own teacher steps in front of me, intercepting me.

"Why are you doing this?” she asks me.

“If I don’t get them,” I say, “who will?”

*

There’s a scrawny, pale boy in my fourth-grade class. We are both on the track team, a connection I treasure. I am an industrious, rule-abiding student; this boy tells dirty jokes when the teacher leaves the room.

One day in music class, we learn folk dances. I am partnered with the boy. We are instructed to walk in a circle holding hands.

“This doesn’t mean anything, you know,” he says, before he takes my hand.

“I know,” I say honestly.

*

In high school I race a distance of three point one miles. I run farther and farther distances, mapping new routes through the neighborhood. Each new distance feels both reckless and right.

I know where the neighborhood boys live, the ones I don’t have official crushes on but have known more or less since I was six and privately think are handsome and funny and have good hearts. When I run I imagine them watching me, and I imagine them seeing in me something I see in myself only when I’m running, and which I can’t exactly describe except to say it has to do with beauty and discovery and an ache I might call loneliness if it didn’t feel so good.

*

The summer before college, I train for college cross-country. I run thrilling new distances: eight miles, ten miles, sometimes more. I go running with one of the neighborhood boys. We are together for only an hour but it seems we have time to say everything. Our conversation is intimate, in that it is personal, and yet he reveals nothing that I don’t somehow know already, that doesn’t sound like an idea that could have started in my own head.

Less than a month later, he is gone. The work of a few moments. A confounding separation.

*

I’ve lost places, people, comforts, memories. Each loss finds its way into my body as a sort of shape: physical, neurological, an outline only I can trace. I’ve lost the ways in which I once thought, the assumptions that guided my steps through the world. I’ve lost the belief that I could use distance to get to anybody.

*

Here is one thing I have. A scribble-scrawl map of miles laid over my old neighborhood. A most intimate drawing of desire.


Mindy Misener received an MFA from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writer's Program in 2014.

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