I. Her son would be the quarterback again this year, like every other year. He’d joined a summer camp, practiced every day. She’d made sure of that. Her yellow plastic stopwatch was cracked around the edges from clenching her sweaty fingers. At first, her son groaned when he saw the schedule she’d outlined for the summer, a full month of football camp, sprints, sit-ups, snap practice. Mid-June, when his six pack appeared, she heard he finally asked the girl next door out to a movie. The girl said yes, and you’d be crazy to think she would’ve said that if he hadn’t been training every day! He should plan a party at the park after one of his football games and invite the girl and some friends, she decided. She’d make burgers on the grill and bring popsicles. She looked up as he was walking on the field. His shoulders slouched under his thick pads just a bit too much for her taste. “C’mon baby!” she hollered. “You got this, my baby boy.”
II. She always cheered a little louder when the runners passed, especially the girls. They needed it as much as the football team. Probably more. It hurts more to push yourself to go faster than it does to be hit by someone else. She knew that from watching what looked like cathartic pain wash over the runners’ faces day after day. One day, years ago, she told her mom she wanted to run with a team too. Her mother sighed deeply like she sometimes did, got those sad lines between her eyebrows. “Don’t you like cheerleading?” She did like cheerleading. Clap, clap, clap. Kick, spin. Clap, clap, clap. And the girls kept running by, ponytails swishing back and forth, back and forth. Sinewy legs pushing the ground away, clenched hands reaching forward. She cheered even louder. She stayed late after practice with some of the football guys and cheer girls. After everyone else had left, she decided, for the first time, to run. It was getting dark. She knew her mother wouldn’t want her out alone, the sun sliding away over the steep hill and city spires in the distance. She began to push the ground away behind her, reaching forward like she’d seen the runners do. She lifted her head toward the sky for the first time that day.
III. It used to hurt to watch the eighth grade boys run. Their laughter, their heavy breathing, their legs spinning like the wheels of bikes, heads tilted upward toward the sky. He used to run like that. Now, he could almost feel the adrenaline rush of one boy slowly overtaking the other as they raced around the pond, dodging goose poop with each step. He bellowed, “Let’s go! If it doesn’t hurt like hell you’re not going fast enough!” More than anything, he wanted to tell the fastest to be careful, to take running more seriously. But his coaches never gave him that kind of advice. Yelling was familiar, and it would work just fine. Some of the runners’ parents had complained about the park, saying it was “too dangerous” because some neighborhood kids had sent off a couple BB gun shots. They’re so overprotective, they just need to let their kids grow up, he thought. What he couldn’t bring himself to say out loud was that leaving the park would mean leaving something behind of his own. Only at the park could he close his eyes and run again.
Adele Metres is 17 years old and graduated from Hawken School in the class of 2020. Her interests include cross country running, outdoor adventuring, studying environmental science, and playing the ukulele. While she considers herself primarily a STEM-focused person, she enjoys combining her scientific interests with a humanities perspective and writing creatively about her experiences. Adele currently lives in University Heights and will attend Bowdoin College in the fall, where she plans to major in Earth and Oceanographic Science and minor in Spanish.
Adele on writing and Lake Erie Ink: "While I haven’t extensively participated in Lake Erie Ink, I’ve still been able to take advantage of the many opportunities that the organization has offered for as long as I can remember. I’ve attended a few short seminars in the past, but more recently have submitted my work to their anthologies. This piece, “Scenes from Forest Hill Park,” was actually a response to a writing prompt at John Carroll University’s Young Writers Workshop summer camp, and I was encouraged to submit it to the anthology. I don’t have concrete future goals for my creative writing, but it’s a lot of fun to get published and I’m thankful to Lake Erie Ink for giving me that opportunity!"