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.
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“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?”
“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.”
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.”
“Is that supposed to motivate you?”
“I guess so.”
“Not really. But getting rid of this weight belt sure does.”
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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?