It had taken the greater part of the year for Charlie to recuperate from her surgeries after her accident. Only last year she had been a young athlete with a promising career – all her medals and accolades on the mantle placed in front of her were proof enough.
She rose unsteadily and made it to her trophies, picked up a medal and felt its cool, hard surface between her fingers. She had spent months in therapy, which had culminated in a modest run she had taken part in only the day before. She had come in second last.
Charlie had cried softly as many friends cheered her on – not because she had brought up the rear, but because it had been her first run after her accident, and she had resolutely completed the entire course.
A little more training and she knew she’d be back in action. But at the back of her head, she accepted she would never be the same again. Her battles had scarred her; they had also left her a stronger person.
Outside, at the back of her parent’s home, an outdoor party in her favour – to celebrate the battles she had won – was now in full swing. Someone yelled her name and she put her medal away. She dressed and made it to the back, where paper lanterns threw a warm glow all around. Friends and family turned as she appeared, and her father – her greatest support – whooped proudly:
“Look out, here she comes.”
Amid their lusty cheers, Charlie took a shaky step down from the porch. The everyday prosthetics she had now clapped on under her knees were comfortable – but she was more used to her running blades.
“Here I come,” she said with a smile, and taking her father’s hand, joined the party.