The Medal

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The Medal

Post by Sunwolf007 on Sun Apr 03, 2016 1:55 pm

At just 17, she was now waiting the longest moments of her life to see if she had accomplished the dream that had dominated everything and lead to this very moment.  There she stood, presenting, with the world watching at the Olympic Games. The crowd had cheered at her performance on the balance beam.  She had hit the mat a little awkwardly, but felt that the rest of the routine would make up for it.  She could feel the chalk between her toes as she walked across the red carpet towards her coach, who offered encouraging words and a hug.  She had given it everything she had but it didn’t feel like it was her best.
 
“You’ve got this, Ariana!” Carmella yelled from the stands.  They had the same dream: to win a gold medal in the Olympics together.  They met at a gymnastics competition five years ago.  Even though Carmella was two years younger they became quick friends.  They trained together and always pushed each other to become the best.  Often they were mistaken for sisters since the only difference between them was Carmella’s golden curls.  Yesterday Carmella had fulfilled her part of the dream in the uneven bar competition.
 
Now it’s my turn, Ariana thought, I will never get another chance.  She could only think of one American who came back to win an Olympic gold medal after failing the first time.  No American had yet repeated their performance.  Almost everyone got only one chance because gymnastics was a sport for the young.
 
Ariana looked up to the scoreboard hoping that the results were being displayed.  Instead she saw her name, MILLER ARIANA, with nothing next to it.  She caught a glimpse of herself on the massive screen showing a replay of her performance.  She always felt worse after watching herself on TV.  Her brown hair stayed in place as she did her dismount.  At a lean five feet tall she was the perfect height for the beam.  Aw crap! That looked worse than I thought, she thought as she glanced at her parents.
 
They were both smiling and waving from the stands amidst a sea of people.  This means as much to them as it does for me, she thought as she remembered what led to them being here.  Her mother had done gymnastics when she was younger but grew too tall.  Now, her mom’s dream was Ariana’s to realize.  For as long as Ariana could remember her mom had pushed her towards the sport.  Growing up she sometimes felt she didn’t have a choice about it, but learned to love it.  Her mother was always the first person to give Ariana a hug after a bad practice.  Her mother was the voice of reason on the nights when tears were flowing down her face and she wanted to quit.  Her father, a former baseball player, told her countless times before every match how proud of her he was.  It was his idea for her to retire after gaining her gold at the Olympics.  Her family had waited years and lived only for this moment.    
 
Suddenly the crowd gasped and fearfully she returned her gaze to the scoreboard.  Her eyes began to water as she read the results.  Her score was a tenth below Nadia, the Romanian.  The flood of emotions hit her before she could react. She was angry, sad, happy, and a million other emotions.
 
“You earned it,” Ariana said to Nadia, not meaning it nor wanting to.
 
“Thank you!” she replied happily.


After the medal ceremony, Ariana was cornered by a reporter wanting to ask questions. She had planned on announcing her retirement after competing in the Olympics, yet she had lived only for this sport for so long that the whole idea just felt wrong.  She felt that she at least had another good year left in her.  She smiled politely even though she wanted to be left alone.
 
“How does it feel to come so close to taking gold?”
 
“It was like living a dream, competing out here.  I got to do so much that I wanted to do with my life by coming here.  This was the highlight of my life,” Ariana said as tears began to well up in her eyes.  She felt as if her life was over and that she had disappointed everyone.
 
“So what’s next for Ariana Miller?”
 
Ariana gave a weak smile, trying not to cry. “I don’t know.”
 
“Those stupid judges didn’t know what they were doing.” A familiar voice stopped her as she headed down the tunnel to her room.  She looked ahead at Carmella and now, without the whole world watching, she couldn’t hold it together anymore.
 
“I couldn’t do it…” Ariana started as tears began to flow down her tan cheeks.  Carmella gave her a hug and, after a few moments’ embrace, she looked deep into Ariana’s brown eyes. “Most people retire in their 60’s which is, like, three times our age.  You can’t spend all that time regretting this accomplishment.  You can do whatever you want!”
 
“I want a gold,” Ariana sobbed, “I came all this way and only got second place.  Now I will never get another chance!”
 
“I will let you wear my gold medal.”
 
“It won’t be the same.  I have nothing…”
 
“No.  What you have is two more medals than 99 point some large number percent of the world has.  So what if this is the highlight? We can make a new dream right here and now.  I need a silver to complete my collection and you need a gold.  Let’s earn them together at the world competition next year.”
 
“I don’t know…”
 
“Come on!  I have a year left before I grow too tall and you must have one more year left in you.  Let’s start our new dream right now.”
 
It won’t be the same but, I don’t want to retire just yet, Ariana thought.  She smiled as she responded, “You’re right, let’s do it.”

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Sunwolf007
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