The end of another rough day. When you walk out the door, the fresh air shocks you back to reality, reminding you that none of it really matters. All of the stress and anxiety you’ve felt all day is just a side effect of life in the fast lane, a life you’ve been told to want.
As you wait at the crosswalk, the noise of your day drifts away. Slowly relaxing, the person next to you quietly waits, their eyes shifting between you and the cars passing by, and as you embrace your new-found clarity you decide to share it. As a smile clings to your lips, it’s met with a look of contempt from your crosswalk acquaintance, their nose now pointing to the sky without a hair shifting from its place.
Their disregard for your friendliness ignites something in you, and as the light at the crosswalk changes, the race begins.
The engine rages in your head as your hand wraps tightly around the imaginary stick shift buried in your pocket. Your eyes lock on red, hand holding your beast at bay, and in a flash pixels of white signal the green to go and now the rubber meets the road.
You keep pace with them, your new nemesis, battling it out for the longest stride, until a gust of wind causes them to waver and fall behind. In front of you lies more commuters. No, more competitors, merely obstacles to the finish.
Suddenly, without warning, another appears, well-dressed and sneaking into your periphery, matching your pace with two inches on your stride. The unspoken gauntlet has been thrown and the race is on.
They use those two inches to their advantage, extending each stride and quickening their pace.
But, no, not today. Today you need a win. Today you need that feeling.
When you feel there’s nothing left, you suddenly pull out all the stops, heeling and toeing each step, your pace quickening, closing the gap, step by step, inch by inch.
To your former competitors the race looks tight, but in this moment there can be only one. In this moment you have your small victory.
Written by Jamal A. Bilal
Illustration by Creees