Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: Karen Zoren: The Early Years
By Gilbert Backers
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Karen was 5'9” and still growing. Her sweat drenched, blond ponytail swung back and forth as she walked over to Elizabeth, who was only 5'3”.
“Hello, Karen,” said Elizabeth.
“Training was awesome, today, mom,” said Karen, excited, just before taking another gulp from her water bottle. “I'm now the fastest girl on the team. When we did the forty, I was the fastest by 2.7 seconds. Those squats are paying off.”
“Well, those squats are not paying off in those thighs of yours,” said Elizabeth as they both started walking towards the school parking lot.
“What?” said Karen. “I used to have skinny, little bird legs and now I can outrun some of the guys on the football team.”
“Well, now that's not very feminine,” said Elizabeth. “How are you supposed to get a man if you scare them all away with those big legs?”
“What? Jason likes my big legs,” said Karen.
“Who's Jason?” asked Elizabeth.
“He's the star sprinter on the track team,” said Karen. “He's going to love how fast I am.”
“How can any boy like that?” said Elizabeth. “Are you making him up just to make me think a boy likes you now?”
“No, don't be ridiculous, mom,” said Karen. “Look, he's right over there. See on the track, the guy who's far ahead of everyone else?”
“He's black!” said Elizabeth.
“Well, duh,” said Karen. “He's, like, the fastest guy in the tri-county area so, yeah, he's black.”
“Well, why did- I mean how did you two meet?” said Elizabeth, still in shock.
“Hello, we go to the same high school. We're both athletes and we're both around the field a lot after school,” said Karen.
“Aren't there plenty of nice boys at our church you could meet?” said Elizabeth.
Karen stopped walking and dropped her gym back.
“Those guys are scared of me,” said Karen.
“Well, what do you expect,” said Elizabeth. “You're aggressive and not very lady like at all. When was the last time a good boy showed any interest in you?”
“Hello, Jason?” said Karen. “He's not some arrogant, dumb jock on the football team. He's actually the best physics student in our school. He cares about me. When I have a bad day, he wants to know about it. He's there for me when I need him.”
“I just don't know him,” said Elizabeth. “What's his family like.”
“They're black, too,” said Karen. “You know what? I'm making you late for your Daughters of the Confederacy meeting.”
“That's not until Thursday,” said Elizabeth.
“Whatever,” said Karen.
“How dare you talk to me that way, young lady,” said Elizabeth.
“I'll just wait until Jason's done training and we can go to the library and study like we usually do,” said Karen.
“You've been seeing that boy behind my back?” said Elizabeth.
“Yeah, mom. We've been studying together,” said Karen. “That's why my grades improved. He likes that, too.”
“He could be a bad influence on you,” said Elizabeth.
“I'm taking my team to the state championship this season and I'm doing well in my science classes at school,” said Karen. “You're right, he is such a horrible influence on me. But, you better get ready for some brown skinned grand kids, mom, because even if I don't marry Jason I'll marry another black man.”
Karen could see her parting words really angered her mother, as Karen intended. Karen picked up her gym bag and walked towards the track.
While her relationship with her mother was up and down over the next twenty years, Karen grew up to finish 3rd in her medical school class and she did marry a black man.
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