• June 16, 2024

Above All Odds – A Inspirational Short Story by Michele Platz – Reedsy Prompts

The streets were lined with spectators, all cheering, but all I could hear at this point was my own labored breathing. I’ve been training for this moment for years. The Olympic qualifying race. I had been running for the University of Oregon for four years and running for even longer. It was my release from life. I loved every tortured stride of it. My legs burned at every land of my long stride, almost 26.2 miles down, 100 yards to go and I had it!

“You got this Alexis,” I muttered to myself. “You’ve worked most of your life for this moment.”

My friend coined me the crazy runner – as I liked to run alone, and talk to myself, whatever works.

The ribbon of the finish line was closing in, for the first time in miles I looked back to see if my competitors were close. Only one I could see, and she was a good 50 years behind me. I picked up my pace and sprinted for the finish line. I crossed the finish line, as euphoria filled my body. The announcer yelled, “new state record!” I threw my arms into the air and feel to my knees and proceeded to cry. I made it to the Olympics! I set the State record! I did it! My parents, my best friend, Nick, my girlfriend Paige, my coach, as well as my other teammates, attacked me with hugs and congratulations. I couldn’t believe I made it.

The after party is one to remember. I celebrated with one or six too many drinks, and cake, yes, cake. I hadn’t eaten sugar in months and months, it was blissful.

One of my teammates, Sarah was the set designated driver for our ride home from the party. Paige rounded me up in my drunken stoper, “it’s time to go, babe,” she says as she puts her arm around me as she pulls me to her.

“Aw, babe.” I sulk, but obediently followed in stride with her. Six of us climbs into Sarah’s black Chevy Suburban just as the rain starts falling. My head starts swimming, I close my eyes and lay my head on Paige’s shoulder as we head toward home.

I was woken from my drunken slumber, first by horrific screams, then the Suburban spinning, then – bam, a sudden impact to my side of the vehicle. Then, blackness.

**

My eyes flutter open, I see my mom and sister crying sitting close to my hospital bed. Pain racks my whole body. “mo—om,” I squeak. My mom, Joan, jumps up quickly from her chair, rapidly wiping her tears away from her face.

“Oh my God, Alexis, you’re awake!” She grabs my hand gently.

I try to speak again, but nothing comes out my tiny squeaks.

“Honey don’t try to talk. It’s ok. Everything is going to be ok.” She whispers gently.

I see a tear quickly escape down her face. Fear fills every ounce of my soul. I don’t believe her. Something is wrong. The darkness and pain take over as I fade away to a deep, nightmare filled sleep. Crashing, crunching, screaming, in every corner of my dreams.

“Miss Stafford,” I hear a voice waking me from my dreams with relief. I open my eyes carefully to see a young female doctor standing before me. Her green eyes jutting out from beneath her black rimmed glasses, a stark contrast to her long sleek black hair.

“I’m Dr. Allie Cavannah. How are you feeling?” She calmly asks, cocking her head to the side.

“Every – thing – hurts,” I manage to say.

“I can imagine so. Do you know what happened?”

“No,” I whisper. I’m barely able to keep my eyes open, but I don’t see anyone else in the room other than the intriguing doctor.

“You were in a car accident. Your driver had been drinking and went off the road then over corrected, then came back onto the road directly in the path of a big rig – she paused briefly, before beginning again – the direct impact was on your side of the vehicle. Your girlfriend Paige tried to save you by covering you up partially and in the process, she died instantly of severe head injuries.”

Tears started falling rapidly.

“The other front passenger lost his life as well. And, Alexis, you sustained some internal injuries, and you lost your leg from the knee down.”

She stopped talking, waiting for my response.

My mind raced in a million directions. NO! I feel my leg, I reach down to feel, and look. NO! This can’t be real. THIS is the nightmare. Please wake me up… 

I still wasn’t speaking, my cries became body wracking sobs, shaking my whole body.

The doctor pulled up a stool next to me and grabbed my hand and just let me sob for what seemed like forever.

Eventually, she speaks, “I’m going to get you a little something else to help you be able to relax more.”

“Ok,” I finally say. “My life is over.”

“It feels like it right now, but what I do know about you Alexis, is that you’re a fighter. You will overcome this.” She rose from her seat and patted my hand.

“I’ll get your mom for you.”

“Thank you,” I mutter in desperation.

My mom is usually a very well put together woman, but when she walked in I didn’t recognize her. She didn’t have make on, her hair was in disarray, in a ponytail with pieces of hair sticking out in all directions. In leggings and a baggy hoodie. I had no idea how long it had been since the accident, but by the looks of her, it’s at least been a week.

Seeing her made me cry harder if that was even possible. She didn’t say a word, she just pulled me into her arms and held me until I released her.

“Mom, why?” I asked, looking deep in her eyes.

“Honey, I wish I could answer that question, but all I know is we are all here for you no matter what.” She strokes my hair.

“Sarah was supposed to be our designated driver, she killed Paige, mom! She might as well have killed me. She took my leg!” I say, sobs choking me again.

As if on cue the nurse comes in and injects my IV, and I drift into, thankfully, a dreamless sleep.

**

Two years have passed, the familiar pavement made the patter underneath my feet, the only difference was the new slap coming from the new prosthetic carbon fiber leg.

My upper leg hurt, excruciatingly so, but I was almost to the finish of my first half marathon (13.2 miles) after tragically losing my leg and my girlfriend. If I thought training my whole life with two legs was hard it was nothing compared to the last two years. Training, grieving, the list goes on. But, with the support system I have, is how.

I cross the finish line with so much pain that it reminded me of PT straight out of the hospital, but the joy and sense of accomplishment I had, it outweighed how I even felt when I qualified for the Olympics and set the State record.

Tears fell and fell, for what I lost, what I accomplished, and what I overcame. Fist by my side was Allie, at a full sprint, tears pouring down her cheeks as well. She grabs my face and looks into my eyes, her green eyes filled with tears, “I told you that you would overcome this. I’m immensely proud of you!” She leans in and kisses me and hugs me so tightly I think she’s going to break my ribs.

“Thank you. I wouldn’t be here, or couldn’t have done it without you, my love!”

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