“Princess! NO!!!” I screamed as the gun went off. I woke up with the weight of her body falling against my own, and the smell of the gunpowder lingering in my mind. Her trembling reverberated through my body as I opened my eyes and searched the faces of my family as the scene faded into my memory.
I sit up on the edge of the bed and try and to shake the tentacles of the dream from my mind. The luminous orange numbers on the clock my youngest brother gave me for my birthday flipping over to three-thirty caught my eye. And I knew sleep will not be visiting me again.
I made my way to the shower and let the water wash over my head and shoulders in a hard, hot stream. I closed my eyes and felt the burn of the drops, but I still felt Kira’s weight against my shoulders and heard her softly whispered words, “I love you, big bro,” as she fainted. I hit the tap to cold and stood under the water until my skin tingled. I dried off quickly and put on my training clothes.
I put my earphones in, set my phone to Bon Jovi’s Sleep when I’m Dead, strapped my phone to my arm, and slipped out of the apartment. I ran through the quiet streets of Concordia, Kansas, and took note of the changes that had occurred in the town since the days of my childhood. I automatically slowed when I reached the block that our old apartment was on. I smiled as I saw the old grocer’s shop on the corner where Mama used to do her shopping. I looked up at the second-floor windows where so much had happened in the lives of myself, my younger siblings, Mama, and Ma May who lived upstairs... and Crawford.
I put my head down and started the sprint portion of my routine as I made my way to the Republican River Pegram Truss Bridge. I climbed the side support and quickly made my way to the top of the bridge and used the support beams as my gym, working on my speed, legs, hand-eye coordination, as well as my arms. I traversed the four hundred and eighty feet until my muscles felt as though it was on fire.
I made my way to the midpoint of the bridge and sat on the edge of the highest truss, dangling my legs over the side and watched the early morning moon reflect off the snow. I felt the wind cool my flushed face and saw the glimmer of the snowflakes as they were lifted off the branches of the trees and set upon on the slow-moving waters of the river. I sat and watched the waters till I shivered as my sweat turned icy against my skin.
I jumped from the truss and landed smoothly on my feet, making my way back to the apartment to get ready for work.