I’m quivering. From the cold, I think. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just my rapid breathing that is making my chest twitch almost rhythmically. Either way, I’m beat, mangled. I can open my eyes, but not for long. Long enough to feel the wind on my eyeballs – a continuously present wind – that my somatosensory receptors have selectively ignored for over half an hour now.I cover my eyes to shield them. My hands are pulsing, but so is my forehead. They synchronize and throb together as I roll over to my backside, face still twisted in complete agony.
The Plains of Abraham have not seen such a spectacle for 258 years, buthistory has a weird way of repeating itself. The battle for land, between the French and the English, turned soldiers against each other. Multiple clans, fighting for the same purpose – to extinguish the opponent – depleted their resources, so much so that it was difficult to distinguish the winners from the losers. The line was blurred. Everyone looked the same. Teams were broken down to their purest forms – handfuls of individuals – sprawled out on the battlefield, waiting to learn if their self-sacrifice was worthwhile. Waiting to know if their self-sacrifice was honest enough. Today is not much different.
Here I am, a French-Canadian lying lifelessly, soon listlessly. I’m Montcalm reincarnate. Defeated on the Plains, a heaping pile of war residue. Next to me lies Wolfe, – no, Dewolfe – equally as trashed. We’re unsure of who crossed the finish line before us. We have no idea what’s happened behind. I think Bernie is close by, and the look on his face would be telltale. Too bad I can’t get up. Too bad I can’t see.
I need something – food, maybe. Water…something to make my stomach stop turning. My homeostatic levels are severely threatened from all angles. I feel empty in more ways than one. But there will be a banquet – there will be drinks. We will soon feel alive again. Sustenance is not an issue. I need reassurance. I need comfort so direly that I pick my arms up from the ground and use them as support to push my body up into a sad Vinyasa pose.
I open my eyes, and look at Cal Dewolfe, sitting with his head between his knees – beat, distraught, confused. Thank God he is close. I would surely collapse under the weight of my chest and blood-filled head in seconds. I open my dry mouth, knowing that the moment will unveil the value – the significance – of these last months, of these last years. This moment of clarity and truth will be the one I remember. I sacrificed countless hours for this mid-November moment to be a good one. Hoping that he knows better, I turn towards my lanky training partner, roommate, friend, and rival and hope – wish – for some good news.
“How’d we do?”
Find out what happens next.
Wishing you all a great cross country season
Alex Cyr is a competitive runner, Master's candidate, freelance writer, and author of Runners of the Nish.