Winner: "13" by Lisa Wang
    “13″ by Lisa Wang

    The sun was creeping up my spine. Its warm rays like fingers, lightly stepping one after the other up the notches. The wind in front of me was still blowing from a dark sky. I could feel the damp summer morning air begin to warm up with the brightening of the sky. My wheels just couldn’t move any faster and my legs were pumping beyond my control. It was as if my body belonged to someone else.

    I took one corner and mud flew out from under the tires. I tore down the winding path ahead, weaving through campus, away from the lake.

    My eyes were bleary and still blurred and obscured by the film of sleep. The wind was fighting through my eyelids, pulling tears from my eyes and drawing them down my cheeks, shaded red from the early morning chill.

    Then I took the final bend and just let go. My hands lept free from the rubber grips on my handlebars. The front wheel swerved, shocked that I had actually let go. Suddenly, the front half was now perpendicular to its frame, rejecting me, letting me go ahead.

    My hands hit first. Little rocks found their way through the skin on my palms and dirt embedded itself into the grooves of my fingertips.

    Tucking beneath me, my head went into self-preservation mode. My eyes shut tightly and my jaw clenched: hurtling toward the ground, reluctantly embracing the friction that met my fall.
    Heart pounding, I look up, blinking as if just awoken.

    And I had just awoken. Dreamlike, I somehow ended up at the Lakefill last night, or perhaps you could call it morning. My thoughts were in control so with legs on autopilot, there I found myself.

    The orange glow of the city reached out like streaks or branches, marring the dark sky. I watched the stars try to shine out from behind the haze, but too deep in thought to think about what was actually happening.

    The damp grass beneath me caught my weary body and head that suddenly felt so heavy; my mind on a continuum trying to comprehend what has happened. I didn’t think I was wrong, but I probably wasn’t right.

    It was a strange situation where you aren’t quite delegated these positions of correct and incorrect. Ultimately I was left to define my choices based on emotion or pragmatism.

    He was set to leave tomorrow. And tonight was the night I decided to go rogue and disappear. Maybe I should have gone to talk to him. But this was among my ponderances. I wanted to cut myself off from anything that looked like reality.

    So there I was, at the edge of land and water, watching an impossibly orange night sky through empty eyes. It was there that I realized, he should be the one that I finally tell the emotional side to. It was there that I saw the sun begin to show far away. Maybe it was already sunny in Michigan, across the lake.

    It was then that I realized where I was and how far it was from him. It was then and there that I without control of my motions mounted my bike and began to ride.

    Again I find myself on the ground; this time, despite heightened coherence, in definite greater state of shock. The wheel of my bike spinning out of control, as it it was trying to continue forth without me, if only it could find the ground again. I lay in the deserted road, surrounded by the unforgiving asphalt that broke my fall. I looked up and realized that the sun had beat me across the sky, which was brightening to a violet hue, a mix of colors that could only exist in the early dawn hours.

    I sat alone, watching the sun inch ahead brightening and reflecting off of the glossy leaves above me. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea afterall. So I sat and watched as it passed overhead.


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