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Hello everyone! I'm Alliyah. Writing is my passion. I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints. I also love nature, reading, making people laugh, playing sports, photography and art.

Message to Readers

Hello lovelies! I'm alive!
Anyway, exciting news. This is chapter one of my first ever novel. Please read, comment and review.
Love y'all!

Steadfast (Chapter 1)

June 28, 2019


“It’s not a big deal, Mama!” I smiled at her in an attempt to soften the anxious crease between Christina Jackson’s eyes. I put my hands on either of her shoulders, close to the base of her neck and used my thumbs to massage the muscles there. 
“It’s gonna be fine!” I stood on my tiptoes and leaned my head over so that I could see her face from where I stood behind her. 
Mama rolled her eyes, trying to look annoyed but not exactly succeeding. “You’re always hurting yourself,” She complained, a half-amused expression on her face. In her eyes, however, I could see her worry hadn’t dissolved. “I swear, if you get another sports injury I’m going to go gray entirely.” 
I scoffed, “Mama, you’re not gray.” 
“I am going to be!” She exclaimed. 
I laughed and she joined with me. 
“You’re going to be the death of me, Talia,” 
I smiled mischievously. “I know,” 
Mama’s outburst of laughter was a warning and I danced backwards to avoid the mock punches she started throwing. 
I skipped out of reach towards the front door. “I gotta go, Mama,”
“You’re limping,” She said as a reply. 
“I love you.” 
“Don’t speed,” 
Black woman translation: I love you more. 
I gave one last look at Mama over my shoulder as I headed out the front door. Mrs. J--as all her students called her--was the best, most beautiful woman I knew. She had a way of saying ‘I love you’ in warnings and home cooked meals. She danced too much, sang more and smiled most. When she was younger, before the grey years of bad marriages, busy teaching life and too much fried food, she had been a Track and Field Athlete. She ran for USC when she was in her twenties. 
I was planning to follow in her footsteps. 
I skipped outside our front door, swinging the white, green and gold lanyard clenched between my fingers. Waiting outside in the driveway was a Toyota Camry that was older than the deli food at the Shop ‘N Go at the corner of 8th and Main. 
I hit the unlock button on the keys and the lights flashed. I popped open the driver’s side door and--
It was just a flash. But it was sharp and searing. My breath caught and I stumbled to a stop. Distantly, I felt my chest heaving as I leaned over and rested my head and forearms on the roof of the Camry. I inhaled shakily. The pain lessened gradually; I focused on the rusting metal below me as the agony in my shin faded to the dull throbbing that I had grown accustomed to. 
I took a steadying breath as I straightened once again.
Shin splints. I thought, even though I knew that was probably the fattest lie I had ever told myself. 
I just couldn’t mess this up. 
Not this year. 
Yeah, maybe I was only a sophomore. But this year--I smiled faintly to myself--this year was going to be one to remember. 
Looking back, I can see the sharp irony of that thought. 
This year, 2031, was going to be my big debut. At the end of last year, I had really begun to figure things out. I had ended the season as the fastest girl on our track team in the 200 and the 400 and second fastest in the one. 
The 200 meter race was my best event. Last year, my freshman year, I had been one spot shy of making in the finals for State. 
This year was going to be a different story. 
I could picture my coach’s face: Williams had his blue and white baseball cap screwed down tight on his head; he had cocked his head, grey eyes sparkling.  
“You see the gold medal?” He had asked me, pointing up at the award stands. “That’s yours next year, Jackson. That’s yours.” 
He made me say that. Enough times that I believed it. 
Believed it with all my heart. 
Despite the throbbing in my shin I managed to smile wider.
    I was going to do this. I was going to get there. And the first step towards my gold was training--summer training. 
I slid into the driver’s seat and plunged the keys into the ignition. 
The trip to the school was a short one, LBPHS was less than ten minutes from our home. I drove directly to the track and parked outside the gate, and jogged over to the Track. 
Long Beach Polytechnic High School had been known for its sports for ages, as Coach Williams always reminded us. When we wore the green, white and gold jersey or ran on the black top that was painted with the school’s colors we were representing the athletes that had run before us. We were representing ourselves and our families. “Represent them well,” was what Will always told us. 
    I jogged over to the bleechers that stood next to the track and swung my stuff down on the bottom level. Next to my black duffle bag was a smaller light blue one. I grinned and raised my gaze. 
    I whirled around to see a dark, laughing face. 
    “Jaidyn,” I said, gritting my teeth to hold back laughter that I didn’t want to give my best friend the pleasure of hearing. That might fool her into believing that her attack was a success. 
    She hooked a long arm around my neck and squeezed gently. “How are you?” She asked, her thick, African accent slurring her words slightly. 
    “Good until just recently,” I said, aiming a slap at her thighs and missing.
    Jaidyn laughed. “Ready to run?”
    “Of course,” I said. Maybe. I thought, forcing myself not to wince at the pain in my shin. 
    Jaidyn slapped my shoulder and then released my neck. “Right--let’s go then,” She grabbed her bag on the bleachers and withdrew her spikes.
    “Where are the others?” 
    Jaidyn shrugged and heaved the spikes, one by one onto the turf. “Probably late. Let’s warm up. They can jump in.” 
    I shrugged, “True. Alright, let’s go,” I jogged up to the finish line to meet her and we started warming up, moving clockwise, towards the startline--opposite of the natural way the track flows. 
    We had just finished bounds and were shifting into knee pulls when a silver car pulled up at the track gate. 
    Jaidyn and I could hear Saige’s voice from the track as she slid from the passenger's seat. “--ay. Yep. Alright, Mom,” She sounded slightly exasperated. Jaidyn cast a sideways smile at me. “Love you,” 
    I assumed Mrs. Noah replied because a second later Saige smiled tightly and repeated. “Alright, Mom. Love you,” 
    I held back a laugh as Saige repeated the phrase one more time before she stepped away from the car and it pulled away. Saige swung her bag over one shoulder; her sleek, black braid whipping around and smacked the small of back and her ribs. She grabbed the end of the braid and twirled it up, knotting it on the top of her head in a bun. Then she hurried over to the track. 
    “Sorry, guys. Sorry!” Saige ran up to stand beside me, simultaneously tossing her bag onto the turf. “I am so late,” 
    “Not the latest, by the looks.” My good-natured laugh was cut off premature with another twing of pain that stabbed through my knee. I released my left leg from the knee pull and let it slam back into the black top, popping up on the balls of my feet slightly at the impact. 
    “Who are we still waiting for?” Saige asked, raising her eyebrows in thought. “Carter?” 
    “And Reyna,” 
    “Obviously,” Saige replied easily. The Trujillo twins were practically inseparable.
    “They’ll be here,” Jaidyn said. “They’re probably on their way right now.” 
    “Probably,” Saige said, a faint smile on her lips. “Probably.” 
    “Reyna is going to kill you,” I said, grinning.
    “What? Why? I--” Saige whipped around to face me, her face cherry red. Her braid unraveled from the bun and flopped over her shoulder, shimmering in the sun. 
    “I’m just kidding,” I assured her.
    “Although...” Jaidyn’s pearl white teeth flashed, contrasting greatly to her ebony skin. “You did get very defensive.” 
    “I--” She started. Her eyes widened, then, trained behind us at the parking lot, and she hissed at us, “Shut up! Now!” 
    Jaidyn and I hid laughter behind carefully innocent smiles as the twins jogged over to the black top. 
    “Talia!” A voice bellowed--I couldn’t tell if it was Carter or Reyna. Suddenly their were arms wrapping around my shoulders and I was being smothered by the twins. 
    “Hey, guys,” I said, my words muffled in the two different colored T-shirts and two pairs of bronze-colored arms. 
    Air rushed back into my lungs as the arms released. Carter, with his messy, chocolate curls and hazel eyes smiling, slapped a hand down on my shoulder. “How’s my State Champ?” 
    I laughed nervously, as Reyna planted a sharp elbow in her brother’s ribs. He squirmed backwards, retracting his hand and wrapping them around his middle instead to protect his abdomen from the barrage of elbows and fists that plummeted it. 
    “Hey, hey, hey! I wasn’t….” Carter’s words fade out as Reyna whirles away from him and towards me. 
    She gives me an exaggerated grimace, and rolls her eyes then glances pointedly over her shoulder towards Carter. “Ignore him,” She whispers, just loud enough for him to hear. 
    “Indoctrinating my teammates?” Carter asked, loudly. “That’s unfair,”
    “Are you guys going to warm up or not?” Jaidyn called out, from where she stood at the start line, to the small group that had accumulated by the 50m line. 
    “Yeah,” I answered, starting to jog forward. I glanced over my shoulder and wiggled my eyebrows at Saige. Saige, who was giving Reyna a quick hug, glanced at Carter and colored violently. 
    Carter wasn’t paying attention however. He had fallen into step behind me. “Let’s go, slowpokes,” He said, not looking over his shoulder. 
    I heard Saige and Reyna join the group. The start line was a few paces away; Jaidyn stood there, waiting for us. 
    Everything was going beautifully, normally--
    Another flash of pain. 
    I stumbled a little; my knee weakened slightly and buckled just enough to tip my entire body off-balance. I managed to fix my footing before I went down but it was just enough to set my shins on fire again. 
    My vision went from slightly murky to painfully clear. 
    “Talia?” Carter’s voice. “You alright?” 
    I pulled my gaze upward. Hazel eyes stared into my own, worrying woven into the deep greens and ambers. 
    I realized I wasn’t moving anymore. I had stopped jogging. I was on my feet, though. Thankfully. 
    “Talia?” Saige was gripping my shoulder. 
    “Yeah,” I managed, swallowing. “Yeah, sorry,” I swallowed again--trying to get rid of the bile rising in my throat. I forced a smile. “Just...tripped,” 
    Saige raise her eyebrows. Behind her, Reyna had concern clearly etched into her features. I couldn’t bring myself to look up at Carter again. 
    “I’m fine.” I shrugged away from Saige’s hand and walked to the finish line. Behind me, I heard muttering voices. 
    Ignore it. I thought. Ignore all of it. You’re fine. 
    I ignored the worried gazes of my teammates as I started another warm-up routine. They fell into step beside me, this time in silence.
    Summer has a distinct smell.
    It’s the track and field smell--only stronger. That was part of the reason why I loved summer so much. 
    Summer smelt like warm grass and black-top tracks baking in the sun. It smelled faintly like chlorine and fried food; like overcooked flowers and sunscreen and new shoes. 
    The smell of summer was all around us as we pounded down the track. The smell of sweat lingered faintly in the air as well, brought on by the California sun that beat down on our backs.     
    Saige, Reyna and I were crouching at the startline, preparing for our sixth rep of a 60m acceleration. 
    I was frozen in place, waiting for the sound of Carter’s  voice: the signal to shoot out of my four-point position and into a sprint. I stared down at the black rubber of the track, felt it pressing into my fingertips, my knees. Every muscle felt tight, tense, ready to run. The pain in my leg had faded to a manageable throb. 
    “Set!” Carter shouted. 
    I raised, pushing my hips skyward and leaning my weight into my fingertips and the balls of my feet. I could hear heavy breathing beside me, felt my own heart pounding in my ribcage. 
    There was sound--a clap that represented the start gun. 
    Everything blurred.
    I shot from the blocks with powerful strides. My spiked-feet slammed into the track, boosting me forward. No one was in my peripheral. 
    It was just me running. Me running and the sun beating down on me and the blue sky cheering me on in its quiet way. 
    The 60m mark came up and met me. Then I was decelerating. 
    Pain flared in my shin and I stopped abruptly, grimacing. I ran my hands over my face and spun around.
    Saige and Reyna had slowed to a stop beside me. Saige’s dark hair was swinging around her hips once more, stubbornly refusing to stay put. 
    “Whoa, Talia,” Reyna pushed her hair out of her eyes, combing in straight back with her fingers and holding it there, both hands interlaced, resting on the top of her head. “That was a lot better than last time.” 
    I tilted my head to the side, popping my neck. “It felt faster.” I said, slightly out-of-breath. “I think I’m finally figuring out how to start,” 
    “Heck, yeah,” Saige was fussing with her hair again, knotting it for the millionth time. She glanced up at the sky, shading her eyes with a hand. “I’m getting burnt as we stand here,” She muttered. 
    I laughed, walking past her and slapping her on the shoulder. “Sorry, can’t relate,” 
    Saige stuck out her tongue at me and I returned the gesture. 
    “It is getting hot,” Reyna observed, jogging a few steps to catch up with me. 
    “Two more reps and we can go get smoothies or something,” 
    Reyna smiled, wistfully. “I’m so hungry,” 
    “Yeah,” I agreed, distractedly. I resisted the urge to bend down and massage my knee and shin. The pain that build there was starting to get on my nerves. 
    “Hey, are you alright?” Saige asked. 
    I turned over my shoulder to look at her. “Yeah. Why?” Suspicion crept into my voice.
There was a silence--an awful silence that made my heart race. I swallowed. 
Was it showing? 
“You’re limping,” 
I froze. Reyna stumbled to a stop beside me.
    “Really?” I struggled to make my voice sound innocent. If I just ignored the pain, pretended like it wasn’t there….
“You’re limping.” This time Saige’s voice was stronger, more certain. 
Feet pounded the black top, vibrating the surface. A hand gripped my arm; nails dug into my skin.
    I looked down. 
Saige’s fingers pressed into my skin--almost painful. 
“Are you alright?” She asked again, this time her voice shook. I swallowed, feeling a hard lump in my throat. I could feel Reyna’ stare on my face. My face felt warm. “Talia?” 
She was worried. I could tell in her voice, her touch. 
I was worried. 
Usually pain and injuries weren’t a big deal--I iced, I rested and then I attacked the track all the harder. 
But this felt different. A lump was growing in me--a knot of worry and pain, quite literally. 
I tried to say ‘I’m fine’ but my tongue was too dry and my mouth wasn’t obeying the commands that my brain was firing off. 
At the start line Carter and Jaidyn seemed to notice that something was wrong. Jaidyn was moving towards us, a confused expression on her face. 
“Talia? What’s going on?” Reyna asked me. She was standing just in front of me, I noticed. I hadn’t seen her move. 
“Nothing. I--” 
I’m in pain. 
I think something is wrong.     
What was I supposed to say? To do? Lie? Pretend like everything was okay?
I swallowed down bile for the fifty millionth time today. “I...have something I should probably tell you.” 
“That’s gnarly,” Carter breathed, then yelped in pain as a well-aimed elbow jabbed at his  ribs. 
“Really?” Reyna snapped. “Is that really appropriate right now?” 
    I wanted to laugh at the bickering but I couldn’t bring myself to make the noise. What if this was bad ...? What if--
    Saige’s voice snapped me back to the present. “How long has it been there?” She probed the section of raised skin on top of my shinbone. 
    I shrugged, running my hand over the area. It wasn’t large--around the size of a marble. It felt firm but it slid underneath the surface of my skin when I touched it. As my fingers brushed the bump the throbbing heightened. The right corner of my lips tugged upwards in a grimace. 
    “Does it hurt?” Saige asked, softly. 
    I grimaced again and didn’t answer. It was stupid question. 
    “When did this happen?” Jaidyn leaned over us, blocking out the sun. Long, black braid swung into my view like hundreds of spider’s legs. 
    I shrugged. “A couple weeks ago? A month ago? It wasn’t hurting much until last week.”
    “And last week it just fired up?” 
    “Yeah, I guess so.” 
    Saige pursed her lips. “Mrs. J knows?” 
    I winced at the memory of just this morning--telling my mom that everything was going to be fine. 
    “Yeah, she knows of it,” 
    “Does she know how bad it is?” 
    I was silent, letting my gaze fall back to my injured leg. 
    Jaidyn sighed and straightened. “You’re done, then,” I opened my mouth to protest but she cut me off. “Just get it checked out. Make sure everything is alright.” 
    I bit my lip and Jaidyn clapped her hand down on my shoulder. 
    “Just make sure,” She gave me a tight smile. “Just make sure. 
    “Mama?” I didn’t look at her; my gaze was trained on the table top that I was sitting on. I swung my legs, letting them twirl in circles. I picked at the wood, dislodging a splinter. 
    The monotone clack of the computer keys that had filled the room milliseconds before, paused. 
    “Yes, baby?”
    I exhaled loudly. 
    “You complaining?” The clacking resumed. “You want me to give you something to complain about?” She was teasing me and she laughed at her own joke. I didn’t laugh along. The typing stopped and I felt Mama’s eyes on me. 
    I glanced up and then ducked my head back down. 
    “What’s wrong, baby?” 
    My eyes were stinging. I blinked hard and dislodged another splinter. 
    “Yeah, what?” 
    I inhaled, shakily. “Mama, something’s wrong,” I raised my head, looked into my mama’s eyes.
    She was scared. 

A/N: Hola, peeps! It's been forever, I know. But I want to thank y'all. Because if you're reading this, then you've most likely just finished reading the first chapter of my first ever novel. **inserts clapping and hugging and maybe a few tears of joy** Thanks a million! Please, please, please comment and review on the parts that you liked and the parts you thought could use some more work. 
Keep an eye out for semi-frequent updates. 
Lotsa love, cuties. <3 <3


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