I watched Eric run around the track. Every step sent up a puff of dust that the wind picked up and carried until it had drifted far away from its point of origin. The sun made the sweat on his forehead and on the back of his neck shine like rivers of mercury. Whenever his loop around the track took him close to the bench I sat on I could hear his breath tearing in and out of his lungs. My own breathing had slowed by the time he finished the ten miles we both ran every afternoon.
“I think you made better time than ever before.” He panted between every other word.
“Seriously Andy, you’d finished before I even hit the seventh mile.” He wiped his face with a towel and sat down on the bench next to me.
I scooted towards the end of the bench. Every single breath he took shook the metal beneath me. It sounded like he was dying.
Andraste finished her last lap and stood by the starting line with her arms folded across her chest before I had even started on mile seven. I ran past her, doing my best to breathe slow and even, the way I had taught her when she was little. Back then I could beat her. Not anymore it seemed.
By the time I finished she had given up waiting for me and sat on the old rusted bench on the side of the track. Her face held some sort of a mix between boredom and mild embarrassment as I approached. If it wasn’t for the slight flush to her face or the way the wind had piled her hair nobody could’ve guessed she had just run ten miles.
“I think you made better time than ever before,” I said, trying to control my breathing.
Andraste just shrugged and stared off over the golden hills.
Time to try again. “Seriously Andy, you’d finished before I even hit the seventh mile.” She didn’t react except to scoot over as I sat down next to her.