I wrote this one year ago and I’m delighted to share it again for Fandango’s Flashback Friday as it also follows my running theme today. I hope you like it!
Oliver craved the euphoric happiness of freedom he felt whilst running. He’d run the four miles to work his shift as a bartender and run home too. On his day off, he’d jog to the beach and dash through the breaking waves, a blissful smile on his face. Oliver never trained to be a sprinter; it was the distance he loved. One day he saw a sign and took a chance. He sprinted to the sports centre and signed up for the biggest event of his life. From then on, his joy of running became an obsession. He trained and worked toward the new goal. He longed to be a gold medallist and now his chance was coming. As often as life allowed, he pushed himself further and further along the beach. Always wearing his red running shirt and black shorts. Each time he’d run until his muscles burned and his chest heaved with the strain. Despite the pain, the exertion and success were exhilarating.
“You training for something, lad?” asked an old fellow with his dog. “I’ve seen you running here most day for weeks.
“I’m training for the Olympic Marathon!” Oliver replied jogging passed with a smile. He waved to the old fellow every time they crossed paths after that.
Then it was marathon day and everything changed. Oliver was never seen running on the beach after that. Slowly his essence faded away as if he’d never been there at all.
Some years later an old artist came to the beach. He set up his easel and began to paint. With a masterful hand, he stroked washes onto his canvas. Waves rolled into existence by the elegant swirls of his fan brush.
A runner in a blue running shirt and black shorts appeared jogging along the waterline.
The artist snapped his picture with an old polaroid camera. He hooked the instant print into his easel with a smile. Taking roundhead and rigger brushes, he popped the fit-looking fellow into his painting. There was but one difference, the runner on the canvas had a red running top and black shorts. How he wished he could run. Full of reverie, he moved on to pebbles and rocks on the beach, dabbing them in with a soft oval filbert brush.
He worked for an hour enjoying the sound of the seagulls. Even the raindrops splashing his canvas from time to time couldn’t dampen his enthusiasm. When the painting needed to dry, he moved on to another of the blue and white cloudy sky. He soon had that finished and glazed to a mirror finish. Laying it in the sand, he returned to his runner adding beautiful details with the gentlest touches. When he was happy, he paused to enjoy some ham and cucumber sandwiches.
His painting soon called again. It was time to create that mirror finish by softening and smoothing everything. It was as he worked the runner came back.
“Hey, that’s really good!” said the runner from earlier; admiring the painting.
“Well, thank you.” The old man sat back, scratched his beard, and looked at with a tilt of his head.
“I saw you take my picture as I ran the other way. Is that me in disguise?”
The painter showed him the picture of himself running along the beach. “Actually no, but I used your image to get my proportions right, you see.”
“Very clever. I’m honoured to be your model. Incidentally…” The runner sipped from his water bottle. “You painted him in far more detail than the rest of the picture. Is there a reason?”
“There is…” The painter pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his eyes with a shaking hand.
“Sorry if I upset you.”
“Oh, don’t be sorry, my boy. I’m a silly old fool.” The painter added a couple more brushstrokes then put his brushes down.
“Aw, come on, don’t feel like that.” said the runner stretching a calf.
“I used to love running, like you.” The painter pulled a gold medal from his painting bag. “Won the Olympic marathon many years ago. Never ran again after that.”
“Well done on the medal, that’s amazing! Why did you stop running? I’m Rob by the way.”
“Thank you, Rob. The day I won the marathon; I was hit by a car on the way to the hotel. It smashed my leg. I was never able to run without pain again,” the painter sighed. “The names Oliver. Would you like to join me for a beer?”
Have a great day!