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My daughter giggles so hard while she’s running that she almost topples over. —by Eric Freeze

Bolt sliding into metal, a door closed, locked at night. Silk organza wrapped around a narrow piece of cardboard. It’s the desire when I feel trapped, a worker in a cubitat, coffee mugs and day-old Danish and office jokes and Xerox and chitchat. It’s Zeus in the clouds with his hands full, raining down vengeance on his subjects. But for me it’s mostly a feeling of wanting to go from here to there, quickly. The same feeling that prompted me to buy my first set of track spikes when I turned 30. To bolt. My wife timed me with a stopwatch. We jumped the gate at Iowa City High’s home-of-the-Little Hawks track. I slid sockless into the spikes and sprinted for 100 meters, hoping to find that somehow, despite the years, I had preserved my speed. To bolt, intransitive: to make a sudden, swift dash, run, flight, or escape; spring away suddenly. Ever since the Beijing Olympics, my two-year-old daughter will crouch down into a three-point stance. She recites the words I’ve taught her: On your marks, get set, go! We do this on grass berms, along cracked and tilting sidewalks, over tufts of weeds on our driveway, or on vertiginous sprints through our mazy house littered with toys. I always stay a stride behind her, clomping my feet. I’m the long-legged adversary making up for my slower start out of the blocks, a Carl Lewis coming up on his Ben Johnson. My footfalls cause bouts of glee, I’m gonna get you! and my daughter giggles so hard while she’s running that she almost topples over. Sometimes she does fall, skins her knee or face-plants so her laughs transform into tears. At night after dinner we watch videos I’ve downloaded of Usain Bolt’s races on my laptop. I’m studying the videos for an essay I want to write. There is part of me that wants to be like this man, this lightning bolt, this bolt from the blue, insane Usain tearing up the track. To Bolt. The essay will be a collage, a maundering trail of those two words. A friend of mine, a writer of essays, says that present tense is too affected, since the action always happens in the past. But there’s an immediacy about the present tense that fits the sprinting: the breathless word after word that matches what I see on the screen. The first video, the video of Usain’s 100m final, is in Swedish. The racers line up and Bolt stands, his hands palm down like he’s shaking out a dance move. Then he runs his finger on the outside of his ear. My daughter stands beside me on the couch, watching. The other runners line up. Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson points to his chest when they announce his name. Darvis Patton looks still and 90

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IT’S THE CLICK OF METAL

Wabash Magazine Fall 2011: Moving  

Travel writing and photography from Wabash alumni, students, faculty, and friends

Wabash Magazine Fall 2011: Moving  

Travel writing and photography from Wabash alumni, students, faculty, and friends