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Authors: Lucy Lacefield

The Season of Shay and Dane (9 page)

BOOK: The Season of Shay and Dane
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18

 

 

shay


WELCOME
—STUDENTS,
FAMILIES, AND FANS—TO YALE’S TRACK AND FIELD EVENT OF THE SEASON AS WE HOST
HARVARD!”
A roar booms up from the stands as I walk in to find
my seat.
“AND WELCOME TO HARVARD!”
The crowd is riotous with
excitement!

I make my way down the
concrete steps along with the others to get to the first row, and look across
for my seat number. A pleasant looking older man notices me and smiles my way. I
excuse myself getting around the fronts of people, making sure not to upset
drinks sitting tucked near the undersides of seats. “Hi, you must be Coach
Malloy,” I say immediately comfortable in his company. There’s a quality to his
appearance that makes me think instantly of my dad.

“I am. And you must be
Shay—nice to meet you.” He reaches and shakes my hand. There’s a good-all-over
feeling about this day.

The jovial announcer
comes on again directing our attention to the events about to commence in
different parts of the arena. I look down at my program for the 100 meter and
the 4 X 100 meter relay. Both races Dane will be running today. The two heats
are somewhat isolated in the middle of the page, listing the 100 meter race to
start at 2:00 followed by the 4 X 100 meter at 3:00. I know the big race is the
100 m, and from what the university paper said yesterday it seems that for the
first time Harvard will prove to be competition for Dane. I feel tingly from
pure, numb delightment and thinking about it. I slide my soda down under my
seat with the rest of the cups lined along our row. Only 40 minutes to his race.

 

 

dane

I shift position
momentarily, leaning against the cool, concrete wall listening to the last
words of Coach Lewis before we enter into the stadium, half taking-in what he’s
saying.
I just have to keep focus—not let his pressure to perform get to me
and do something stupid like false start—and not let knowing she’s in the
stands do the same.
I finish my own pep talk about the same time he
finishes his—whatever it is he’d call it.

“Bring it home Dane!” Mitch
slaps my ass from behind.

“Yep—gonna try.” I look
back over my shoulder at him as we make our way to the entrance out into the
arena. He’s fourth man in the relay and probably the only other truly dedicated
runner on the team.

Two more steps and the
sun will be shining on my face and the full scope of charged anticipation will
ring out for me to see.

“AND HERE THEY ARE—YOUR
YALE
ATHLETES!”
Over the uproarious cheering he
one-by-one calls out our names as we make our way to the center—I hold a hand
high, turning side-to-side acknowledging the packed stadium. I peer far over to
the area where my seats are reserved and think I catch a flashing glimpse of
Shay and Coach Malloy on their feet, clapping with the rest of them.

19

 

 

shay

The exhilaration of the
events leading up to Dane’s has my heart racing at times and I find myself
enthralled just the same as everyone else watching.

I sip the last bit of
my soda and excuse myself to go find the restroom and stretch my legs for a
minute. Dane’s race will begin shortly. You can already see officials milling
about on the track lanes near the starting blocks, ready to give them a final
looking over.

Luckily the restroom
sign isn’t too far down the large, open arena hall from where I entered in at from
our seating alcove.

In the excitement of
things I nearly forgot about Dane’s invitation to walk me home. Jenny’s
tutoring will keep her in the student union the rest of the afternoon, and as
nervous about it as I am. . . I am glad he asked.

The light feeling in
the top of my stomach and forehead bring back all of the uncertainties and
fears of being close to him again, but I remind myself that that’s some time
away and just to enjoy the races.

 

 

dane

I saw her walk up the
stairs, as a couple of us moved across the grassy area to the edge of the track.
I have a better view of her and Coach Malloy—only about forty feet from where I
am. And when I take my place on the track, it’ll be halfway between us now and
they’ll be able to see me closely. This is the first time I’ve had both of my
seats taken for someone to be here watching me. The special section for
athlete’s guests is always filled. The cost to get a first row seat anywhere
else in the stadium is hefty and I usually end up giving my tickets to anyone
who asks.

I want to perform for
her. Today’s for her.

I put my hands on my
hips shifting them subtly, keeping centered.

The officials are
talking among themselves. The Harvard guys are clustered together a short
distance away sizing things up—
me
—no doubt.

20

 

 

shay

“. . . IN LANE 3:
HARVARD’S—TRACE—CAPPELLETTI!
.
. .”
Cheers
boom
into the air—rivaling Yale’s
antagonistic bursts of—
“Who are ya?!—Who are ya?!”
“. . . IN LANE 5—
YALE’S!

DANE—MONTGOMERY!
. . .”
The stadium
erupts
absolutely wild with applause! I smooth a
few tousled strands of hair skimming across my forehead from the light breeze and
tuck them behind my ear. I wouldn’t even want a glimmer of trying to see what
is about to happen be out of focus. My whole body feels sensationally light but
frozen in place, and yet so alive at the same time—it’s a whole different kind
of nervousness. I cup my hands together by the tips of my fingers, squeezing
them.
Come on Dane.
Coach Malloy looks steady and reserved as I catch a
glimpse of him peripherally.


RUNNERS
—BY YOUR
BLOCKS!”
The massive crowd grows quiet.
Oh God.
The
runners lower into starting position—a gun raises high—
the SHOT rings out!

40,000 people go nuts!

“Go Dane!” I surprise
myself.

Trace is nearing him.
“GO
DANE—GO!” I’m on my tiptoes—leaning against the railing.
His stride
bolts
—Trace can’t catch up!

FINISH LINE!

A roar rises up from
the stadium!
The crowd is electric!
Thundering feet stomp the Yale
chant—dominating the sound! Goose pimples flash to the surface over my entire body!
“Ahh!” I’m clapping and jumping. Dane slows down to a walk-jog and turns to the
crowd waving high.
The stands go mental!
Swinging Yale Blue towels,
clackers, and vuvuzelas
explode
in celebration!

. . . My eyes are wet.

I’ve never known so
much exhilaration.

 

 

dane

My chest is
pounding—Trace gave it a good run. My appreciative smile sticks as I wave at
the crowd and make my way back up and around the bend of the track.

Mitch comes over with
teammates and rubs my wet head and passes me a cup of water that I sit down on
the grass as I bend and rest my palms on my knees, scaling down my breathing.

I take a drink and pass
the cup off, making my way across the track lanes, still to the cheering, to
Coach Malloy and Shay.

Coach Malloy’s
satisfied expression as I get nearer makes the good-old emotions rise up—it’s
all happened because of him—even this day, for her.

She looks beautiful.

I reach my hands over
the railing to her, actions coming faster than words. She takes them instinctively
and I lean to her, and kiss her on the cheek.

21

 

 

shay

The sweetness of his
breath whispering past my cheek and ear as his soft, sure lips warmly grace my
skin, makes my stomach feel like a thousand dainty butterflies swirled into
flight.

The motion was fast. .
. the excitement in the air. I bend my head slightly; the warmth in my cheeks
making them change color I’m sure. And with the coach standing here beside me
and thousands of people following Dane’s every move. . .

“Good job Dane! Good
job son!” Coach Malloy reaches across the minimal barrier and shakes his hand,
patting firmly his same shoulder with the other hand.

“Thanks coach.” The
fixed satisfaction in Dane’s eyes as I quietly look over tells me how much all
of this means to him, to his coach. . .
to me watching it
. And for the
first time, I feel myself. . .
falling
. . . my emotions taking me,
guiding me to something I’ve feared for so long. . . Dane turns his gaze to me
and sees it; I don’t deny him. I slowly lower my head again.

“Have fun with that
relay!” Coach Malloy offers up in celebration. Dane smiles, looking over at me,
taking a step back, turning and walking across to his teammates.

 

 

dane

I fold my lips in as I
make my way back, savoring the sensation that passed through them. My smile
forming slowly, subtly, into something more meaningful than the race I just won.

“Good race, Dane,” a
voice comes from behind me. I face around to see Trace.

“You too, Trace.” I
reach out and shake his hand. We’ll be meeting up again in less than an hour
for our relay. He put his all into it, but odds are he was Harvard’s one
component to defeat us in the relay also, if the day was going to play out that
way.

I make my way to the
tunnel opening with a couple of the other guys, to get into the locker room and
have a little rest time before preparing for the next heat.

22

 

 

shay

Watching Dane and his
teammates win the relay against Harvard was almost as exciting for me as him
winning his race earlier, and the feeling of euphoria deep within, will linger
for days at just the thought of this afternoon.

As I follow behind
Coach Malloy getting through the crowd of people exiting the stadium, I think
of what Dane had said on our walk, about living with only his mom and sister,
never mentioning his dad, and for a moment I feel overwhelming gratitude for this
kind man who has guided him.

People finally start to
thin enough where we can walk alongside each other over to the area leading to
the athlete’s entrance, although the loudness doesn’t clear away much for us to
really say anything yet. And when it does, I’ll let him be the one to speak
first. I’m sure today brings back a lot of memories and emotions, and leaving
him to his thoughts for now seems only right.

In the distance the side
door opens and a few athletes begin trailing out, showered and changed into
regular clothing, toting duffel bags. We stop before we get too near, not to
get in the way of people leaving.

“Shay, it was sure nice
to meet you today.” Coach Malloy extends his hand, laying his other one over
the top of mine and lightly patting.

“I’m so glad to have
met you too.” His warm embrace this afternoon and genuine regard for Dane, just
reaffirms all of the little tremors of curiosity that have consumed me this
week. . .
Dane is different
,
special
. . .
and somehow
. . .
he noticed me
. . .

“Are you alright?” The
words come into my thoughts securing my focus. “It was a pretty bright sun to sit
in all afternoon,” he adds, making sure I’m okay.

“Yes, yes I’m fine,
thank you,” I say, smiling reassuringly. I don’t know if it’s my place or not,
I’m almost sure it isn’t, but if feels right and to not say anything, I feel
I’ll regret it if I let the moment pass. “Coach Malloy, thank you for being
here for Dane today.”

 

 

dane

The two of them standing
there makes me happy—can’t explain it; everything just seems right.

I swing my bag strap
over my shoulder and say a few goodbyes to the runners coming out behind me,
and let the door fall closed.

“Here’s our man of the
hour.” Coach reaches up and squeezes the side of my arm. “How are ya feeling?”

I cast my eyes down
smiling. “Good, good.”

“You looked great out
there—keeping on top of things. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks coach.”

“Next out Princeton
then,” he says.

“Yep. I’ll be ready.”
He’s great, best man I’ve ever known—having him meet Shay means something to
me. No doubt though, he’s keen to my slight uneasiness right now.

“Well, I’ll head on
back to the hotel. Still up for supper later on?” he asks, hinting if plans
have changed since we arranged it.

“Sure, 8:00?”

“8:00 it is.” Him and
Shay share a couple of parting words and we’re left to ourselves.

BOOK: The Season of Shay and Dane
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