Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Exhale (08/15/13)
TITLE: The Other Jesse
By Bonnie Rose Hudson
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When he walked into the house, his mother asked him what was wrong. He didn’t say anything. His mother seemed to hear his answer anyway. She tried to tell him about the news from the Olympic Games in Berlin, but he didn’t feel like listening.
It wasn’t until they were eating supper that he remembered—this was his hero’s big day! His mother called him “the other Jesse,” saying her boy would always be the most important Jesse to her. Jesse Owens was scheduled to run the 100-meter-dash final. He glanced at the clock. He knew he wasn’t allowed to turn the radio on until his plate was clean, but if he didn’t hurry, he would miss the news from the Olympics.
He inhaled the remainder of his potatoes and ran into the living room. He switched the radio on and held his breath as it crackled to life. The report from the Olympics was just beginning.
As the newscaster reported, Jesse refused to breathe and continued to pray. He knew “the other Jesse” often had trouble getting a fast, clean start in the 100-meter. But the newscaster said he’d had a beautiful start. By the halfway mark, he was well in the lead. But his teammate, Ralph Metcalfe, started to gain on him. It was close—but Jesse had won the race one-tenth of a second ahead of Ralph and had tied the world record of 10.3 seconds!
Jesse exhaled a huge sigh of relief and then jumped to his feet, whooping and hollering. He’d done it, he’d won the race! In front of Adolf Hitler and the world, Jesse had won!
His mom dished up some ice cream to celebrate. She brought it into the living room and handed Jesse his. She reached for the photo album before she sat down. Ice cream was his favorite way of celebrating; looking at family pictures was his mother’s.
As she flipped through the pages, though, he began to notice something. There were pictures of his grandfather singing. And there were plenty of pictures of his father building things with his hands. There was a picture of his older brother the day he went to college. But what about Jesse? What was he good at? Wasn’t there anything he had done that made him special?
Maybe he could become a great runner like “the other Jesse.” When his mother reached the end of the photo album, he asked to be excused and went outside to practice. He marked off a starting line and a finish line, took a deep breath, and ran! He tried the course over and over again. But supper and ice cream weighed him down, and he quickly found himself kneeling in the dirt, gasping to catch his breath, and holding his sides. Maybe this hadn’t been such a great idea after all.
No—he wouldn’t quit. He had to prove he could do something that made him special.
Inhaling once more, he took his place at the starting line. He counted the seconds in his head—ready, set, go! He ran as hard as he could.
“Breathe,” he told himself. “Breathe.”
Never had his lungs or his sides hurt so much. His heartbeat drummed loudly in his ears.
He collapsed to the ground, looked up at the darkened sky, and prayed, “God please give me breath!”
As his heartbeat slowed, his breathing grew easier. Soon he was able to inhale and exhale without it hurting—at least not too much.
But even as the sound of his heartbeat faded from his ears, his prayer echoed louder. “God, please give me breath.” A curious thought crossed his mind. Hadn’t God always been the one giving him breath? Even in the Garden of Eden, wasn’t it God who had first exhaled life into the man he had created?
Could it be that the breath of God in him made him more special than any race he could run or anything he could do? He would think on that some more. For now, all he wanted to do was breathe.
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