She took her mark, closed her eyes, said a silent prayer and focussed her entire concentration on the next few moments that would turn out to be the most consequential seconds of her life. As soon as the signal went off, she felt herself lunge forward and felt herself collapse to the ground.
When she opened her eyes, she was at a hospital with her mom and dad at her bedside. She asked to be told what happened. The look in her father's eyes told her to expect the worst. She learned that she had had a stroke that left her paralyzed waist down. They would try to bring her back to as much normalcy as possible but she wouldn't be able to run again.
Jenny woke up in shock. It took her time to realize that it was only a dream. Yet she wouldn't calm down. This wasn't the first time in the past few months that she'd had a similar dream and everytime she felt traumatized. As though it happened to her every single time. She drank some water, splashed some on her face, sat gazing at the moon and ruminating over her dream. After a while she picked up the Jeffrey Archer novel she had been reading and felt a little lighter.
The next day was very tiresome with a lot of exercises and physical exertion. Jenny was thoroughly exhausted when she went to bed. This time she dreamt of herself gearing up with her teammates for the relay. They were expected to win this time too as the very same team had been winning the last three times. The others were better than her and she was determined not to let them down. She was to run the third leg this time. Once she caught hold of the baton, she ran as though her life depended on it. When she reached the changeover box, the only thing she saw was Rhea's outstretched arm. Then before she knew what happened, she fell on her back.
Jenny woke up crying. She knew what the rest of her dream would be. One dream. A thousand times over. She was sweating profusely and trembling ceaselessly. She was frightened to sleep. She couldn't tell anyone. She decided to let herself cry for once. To let go. To help herself forget. To let herself not dream of it again. She would not think about it for now. She had to calm down. She had to save herself from falling apart. She said a prayer and pulled out her iPod. Music had always been a great solace.
The next day Jennifer had resolved to reconcile her toughest enigma. She allayed her fears. She knew she could handle it herself. All she had to do was control her thoughts. Before going off to sleep, she meditated for a while and felt a sense of tranquility. She thought of the most beautiful things. Her pillars of strength, her parents, her brother, her family, her friends and strangers who became her biggest sources of support and encouragement. Her world was too precious to taint with such delusions. She wished she could sleep without a dream.
Yet, that night she dreamt. Of the most beautiful place that she had ever seen. Of paradise on earth. A lush green meadow, the blooming flowers, the bright shining sun, the clear blue sky and the most pleasant breeze. Jenny walks in enchantment soaking in the splendor of the moment. She breaks free of all clasps, she frees herself from all constraints. She begins running. She feels the breeze break at her lips. She feels the ground beneath her feet. She holds her hands out open conceding herself to the forces of nature. She feels her legs moving swiftly and her heart beating in ecstacy. She feels liberated. She runs and runs until she begins to feel lighter. She feels like she's flowing in water, like she's flying through air. She smiles. The girl with the most beautiful smile. Jennifer.
Jenny woke up smiling. She felt happier than she had in months. She knew she had conquered her biggest fear. She knew that nothing could weigh her down in life ever again. She would transcend every obstacle and reach the zenith of happiness.
She got out of bed and pulled herself into the wheelchair. She moved towards the window and the moonlight that filled her room. She thought of how she woke up one morning to find her legs not moving anymore and how her world came to a standstill. How she went from being a star sprinter to a courageous disabled person. How despite months of exercises and physiotherapy, she could do no better. How she still dreaded sleeping every night for she knew not what misery would await her next morning. How she wanted to prove how strong she was by not telling anyone her deepest darkest fears. How she yearned to feel her feet touch the ground. How she wanted to feel the thrill of running again. How she struggled to shake off her nightmares that made her suffer night after night.
She got all the answers this night. She had felt once more the joy of running. She would spring back to life, she would make her biggest weakness her greatest strength. She would learn to be proud of herself. She would help others help themselves. She would tell them her pain, her angst. She wheeled herself to the table and began writing, ' Jennifer was warming up for the 200m sprint at the finals of the National Athletic Meet.......' She broke into a smile.