“The Record ”
25 August 1994
Once more she made her way over to where the numbers, the records, were posted and once more she stood in silence looking up at that one number, that one time, she knew she had to beat. Three times she had tried and three times she had just missed and now her last chance was coming soon and again she looked up and stared. Finally, she was called for her event, the event, and as she walked away from the record board, all she could see in her mind was that time, those precious seconds.
She broke the record that day and after her parents and friends had packed up and headed home, she walked to the record board and stared up at it one more time and thought to herself, "Now my name will be up there".
Over the next several years, she broke 3 other records but the feeling she got from breaking them never equaled the feeling she got the day that she broke her first record. Then, she entered and completed high school, competing each year and even through college and she was good but she never broke another record of any kind and then after 3 children and a divorce, she had stopped competing all together.
It was a shock when she received the call of her father's death. They had not seen a lot of each other over the past several years with her living now on the West Coast but he had always seemed to be there, to be there for her, and on the long plane ride she could think of nothing else but him.
After the funeral and the wake, she and her mother sat a long time in the old home kitchen that evening talking and then finally, her mother headed off to bed and she was left alone with her thoughts.
At first, she only remembered the trips her dad had made to her home and the time he had crashed the car but not been hurt but then, for some reason, she began to think how he had been her greatest and best supporter when she competed. Always encouraging, always critiquing to make her better, he had beamed with proud and joy the day she broke her first record. "That first record", she thought. "Wonder if it still stands?" "Wonder if my name is still up there on the board?" At first, she was almost tempted to go up to her mother's room and ask her but thought better of it. "No", she thought and feeling like a walk may do her some good, grabbed her coat and hat and headed out the door. She would see for herself.
It was cold out and a light snow was just beginning to fall as she left the house and headed down the street. "It isn't far", she thought. "Or at least it used not to be" and she pulled the collar of her coat up around her neck. As she walked, she remembered that day, now so long ago, and how she had not felt good but somehow had managed, to her surprise, to break the record and how all her friends had cheered and congratulated her. A smile came over her face for the first time in many days.
As she turned the final corner, she suddenly remembered the fence, the gate and the lock. "How would she get in?", she thought. "Maybe she would be able to see the record board through the fence".
When she reached the fence, the gate was locked with a long chain but the lock had been put on the chain in such a away that when she pushed the gates a part, she thought she could just slip between and with some squeezing and pushing she made it inside.
Everything appeared to be the same as she remembered it and she quickly crunched her way through the new fallen snow to where the record board hung. Dam, it was too dark to see and fumbling in her pockets, found a book of matches and lit one quickly. Would it still be there?
Her eyes went directly to the event and age and there, instead of her name, was another name, a name she did not recognize, did not know. She was shocked! Somehow she had known in the back of her mind that chances were not good that she still held the record but then again, she so hoped she would still be up there. D. Shorter. I wonder who D. Shorter is and if she knew how hard it had been for her to break the record and then it occurred to her. She could not remember the name of record holder she had beaten and then she realized that she had never looked at the name, only the time, only those seconds to be beaten. After a another moment, her vision came back and she look around the record board and there, in an event she had never liked but had competed in at her father's urging, was her name. She still held one record after all these years.
The next morning she was up early looking in the telephone books for Mr. Shorter. After a few rings, a man answered and "Yes, he was Mr. Shorter and yes, his daughter Doris did swim", he answered to her query. When Doris got on the phone, she talked with Doris a long time.