Too Skinny

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

Note: This is a sketch made in preparation for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My working title is “Anasazi Runner.” Synopsis: Modern-day Native American boy abandoned at birth and raised by white parents is inspired when he visits Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, and becomes, in his mind, an Anasazi runner who completes the world’s first sub-two-hour marathon.

# # #

“You’re too skinny,” I told him.

“All the Africans that have been winning marathons are skinny. Look at Haile Gebreslassie.”

“I do look at him and I think he could be a little faster if he carried more leg muscle.”

“Where’d you get that theory?”

“From my head.”

I handed him a ten-pound belt I had devised from a couple ankle weights and had him strap it around his waist. “Don’t take it off until just before the race. And I mean you wear it everywhere except in the shower. And to bed.”

That extra ten pounds really slowed his times. I rode behind him on my three-wheel bike like usual and watched the little computer screen. When we got to the top of the run, he stopped.

“This thing’s killing me,” he said, cocking his thumb at the weight belt.

“Good. Fear of death might make you run faster.”

We kept working every day and after the first week of wearing the weight belt his times began to nudge back up again.

“How far am I off my top times?” he asked.

“Before the belt?”

He nodded.

“I don’t know. Twenty percent, maybe.”

He shook his head.

Still three months before the race, I decided we had time for a test. And it’d be good for his head. He seemed to be getting down.

“How you feel today?” I asked before our usual run up Fourmile Road.

He shrugged. “Left ankle’s still sore, but it works out. I didn’t sleep so good last night. Had a nightmare about the man in the moon swallowing me, and then I fell down a mountain.”

“How’d your Indian buddies interpret that?”

“Didn’t tell ’em yet.”

“When you do, let me know what they say, and it’d better be that you’re the fastest running in the world. Now take off that belt.”

He looked at me like he would argue, but I cocked my head and gave him the stern coach look. He took it off and I dropped it into the basket on my bike.

“Now see what you can do. No splits. All the way to the trailhead.

His lips pulled into a crooked smile. “You’re using psychology on me.”

“I’m proving to you that this ten-pound belt is good for you. Now run.” Truth be told, I wanted proof myself. I just made this running coach stuff up. I didn’t have a clue how the professionals did it. Didn’t want to know. Preferred my own common sense.

He ran. He stepped up onto the balls of his feet and leaped from foot to foot. I had to work extra hard to keep up with him on the bike, and that extra ten pounds of the belt didn’t help. At the top, we were both pooped. After we blew a bit, I looked at the computer on the bike. I turned the screen for him to see. He broke into a huge grin.

“Wow!” he said. “I didn’t think I was anywhere near that pace.”

“Nearly three minutes,” I said, grinning back.

“Give me that belt,” he said. “I’m never taking this thing off.”

“Until right before the race.”

He nodded. “Then I’ll run it like the Moon Man is chasing me.”

“Is he?”

He nodded again, with more seriousness than I’d expected. This dream stuff had gotten to him. “They told me it means the moon spirit is chasing me.”

“Why?”

He shrugged.

“Is that supposed to motivate you?”

“I guess so.”

“Does it?”

“Not really. But getting rid of this weight belt sure does.”

# # #

I ended up not using anything similar to this in the novel. This flash exercise helped me get a feel for when the dialogue density is too high. What do you think?

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17 Comments

Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Chaco Canyon, NaNoWriMo, Pagosa Springs

17 responses to “Too Skinny

  1. Barb Relyea

    You did well with the dialogue. I had no trouble knowing who was talking. I would also like the chance to read the completed story. Great work.

    Barb Relyea

  2. KjM

    A good mix of dialogue, both interior and exterior. The balance, with the descriptions, worked for me.

    A nice slice, a window into the training period. I always like coming into the middle of a piece, imagining what went before, and what will come after. Thanks for giving me the opportunity with this piece.

  3. I think you have a good balance regarding the dialogue. I never felt lost, or confused as to who is speaking, and it all flowed very smoothly. Well done.

  4. The dialogue works fine for me.

    I really want to read the whole story, loving these installments

  5. jasonamyers

    Dude! My first rule of thumb: if a story can keep my attention, I like it.
    If you don’t do anything crazy that calls attention to the story, the mechanics of writing, or you, the writer, and all I do is read the damn story, then you’ve been successful.
    No reason to nitpick anything. I read it, I liked it–that’s all that matters.

    This was a great one. Man, now I want to know how he did in the race.

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  7. jeff

    you dialogue flows and word choices are always so careful and provide such great insight to your characters – a nice slice.

  8. The dialogue seemed smooth and natural to me. He’s caught between belief and disbelief on dream interpretations. You showed the struggle well.

  9. Raymond

    Is he not being forthcoming with his coach? He denies telling his friends about the dream in one statement, but remarks on their interpretation in another. It probably is just me, but sometimes I get confused with too much dialog and brief narrative statements as to who is saying what. I did have to read some of the section twice to keep things straight.
    I enjoy this story.

  10. Diandra

    I like the dialogues. But didn’t he say he had not told his friends about the dream yet before the training race? *confused*

    (My job is training me to do this. Usually I am nice.)

    (No, I am not.)

  11. I agree with the others, excellent use of dialogue. Nice flow. Great story.

  12. Deb

    What wonderful dialogue! It really moved me quickly through the story. I had a vivid picture of the whole scene. Great piece :).

  13. Cool. Another piece of the puzzle. I remember your piece when he was telling his friends about the dream. Dialogue is great – but it does make the pace speed up if there’s too much. I think you got it just about right here – especially as you’ve constructed realistic speech, not used it as an excuse for exposition.

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  15. Agree. Dialogue is smooth, fits the scene, and tells good story.

  16. This works. Really liked it. The dialogue flows, doesn’t confuse, doesn’t detract.

    Last line made me laugh.

    Keep up the good work!

  17. I liked it a lot. It just seemes very natural dialogue.

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