Sometimes the weight of representing your team and country makes a leader push himself forward no matter how tired he is. That statement was the inspiration to founder’s Fatma Al Bannai short story submission
He could hear his own heartbeat hammering against his chest; his breath ghostly as he inhaled and exhaled through his mouth while tasting the salty drops of his own sweat as it rolled down his forehead, caressing his cheeks and mouth. His hair and beard were already wet as his eyes squinted against the heat that struck down on him to the point where he couldn’t see clearly from the waves that blurred his destination. His hands tightened against the leather straps despite the painful raw sensation that spread against his palm and fingers. He could hear his team’s cheers but very vaguely though but he knew that they were cheering for their captain to carry forward. It’s funny how he was the team captain and yet he was the one from his team who qualified for the finals; it sort of felt as if he was representing his whole team in more ways than one, in the race and as leader of the whole team that was representing their country.
And yet he felt like he couldn’t go on; the finishing line is just within sight and he was beginning to feel exhaustion taking over his body, shutting it completely and slowly down.
The sounds of approaching hooves snapped his out of his thoughts and had him look behind him from over his shoulder to see three other riders coming towards him; fast! It felt like he had just been splashed with a bucket of cold water because his senses were brought right back as he turned back to see the finishing posts, which seemed more clearly than before. Adrenaline rushed throughout his body before kicked his heel against the horse’s side and he began to ride forward.
He was not sure exactly how far the other riders were from him; but he knew that are close from the sounds of their horses hooves yet he never once looked back and kept his eyes focused on the prize.
The world championship.
The posts were just within a few feet from him and he held his breath in anticipation while his partner pushed further, his legs kicking faster and faster until they rode completely through the two posts and the sounds of cheers rang in his ears. He closed his eyes and released his held breath from his lungs before he collapsed against his horses neck, feeling all his energy completely leave his body and yet his arms came around the animal’s neck as he gently embraced it; savoring this moment, this moment that made those last 15 hours riding in that desert all worth it, just for this moment. He cracked open his eyes to see his team mates running towards him and he couldn’t help but smile in relief knowing that he didn’t not let them down; that he did not let his country down after he was given the trust of leading this team to victory. He sat back up and he extended his arm to the one of his teammates who held their countrys flag, his fingers closed around it as he lifted his arm, not really caring about the ache that swept across his limp as he let the colors red, green, white and black soar in the air.
Author: Fatma Al Bannai