He sees me out of the corner of his eye. His pace picks up. The wheels on the awkward, plastic backpack begin to spin faster. Clack, clack, clack up the steep stone paved hill. He flings another over the shoulder, leftward glance secretly in my direction.
It does not go unnoticed. The race is on. I lengthen my gait, using my longer legs to gain an advantage up the hill. I am not weighed down by the bulk of rolling luggage. I only have books and a lunchbox in the backpack that’s slung over my shoulders. The advantage is mine. My one step exceeds his two.
He leaves his nanny and younger brother in the dust. Though they don’t mind. They are holding hands singing yesterday’s school rhymes. Clack, clack, clack, faster and faster, the noise increases. A car passes between us and I use the opportunity to steel a glance across the street. He is leading, unrelenting in his pace. Though I am behind, the win could be anyone’s. It all comes down to the crosswalk.
He times the traffic perfectly, using a burst of speed at the turn. It’s anyone’s game now. One misstep and winning will evade my grasp once again. I take my eyes off the competition and focus on the finish line, where our paths diverge. He uses my momentary lapse of concentration and accelerates, crossing and turning up the street just mere inches from me. My gait is interrupted, and my next step is unsteady. Finally, I capitulate.
Victory is yours, my friend! Until next time! I make a quick turn down the path on the left, smiling and reveling in my defeat. Nothing could brighten my day more than being beaten in a not so secret race up the hill to school by an astonishingly quick and agile eight year old.