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"wave at mommy, mia."

the shining two-year-old waved her heart all the way
to her eyes. they shined with the grace and
dignity her parents were known for. the breeze
blew waves of caramel curls near her eyes.
her smile was as wide as an ocean. bright
as the sun. sincere as real is real.

"daddy!" she squealed, patting his arm
fervently. "there she is," she grinned in awe.

"yep, she's about to start." he waved to his wife who
skated gracefully to the starting line. with
the sound of the gunfire it would also become the
finish line. a worry, a battle, a flurry of
flying bodies, scraping skates. but time was time
in its own hands. she smiled up at her baby
girl and her husband. they needed each other, the
three of them. they depended on each other.

ready. she bent into position. a breath hung in her
chest, tight and chilled. silence broken.
floored. untamed speeds.

"mia, look at mommy, there she goes!" his heart
rushed to his toes, thick anticipation draping on
his skin. third place. fingers twirling mia's
curls. breath dipped in heavy molassess. second
place. standing up, hand over mouth. toes
curled, brow furrowed, jaw clenched.

first place. last turn. GOLD. release.

he picked up mia and flew over the railing, a bundle
of curls and cheering signs plopping down
into the next level. "you got the gold!"

she fell into his arms, exhausted, spent. "mommy, you
got the GOLD," she said matter-of-factly, her
eyes wide as saucers. "the GOLD."

"i know, baby," she smiled.

"it feels good, doesn't it?" apolo asked.

she sighed. "like the world fell off of my shoulders."

relief, release. gold.