The child ran tirelessly

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The child ran tirelessly: exuberant and relentless, he drove on, edging nearer and nearer to flailing ribbon tied to the hem of the dress of the girl in front. Bare feet pounded on the scorched, dry mud and uneven grass – that would have normally inhibited his progress in running – he stretched his arms, almost reaching the prize. He scathed the ribbon with his fingertips but the girl snaked to her left, dodging a tree with a slight skip, and was out of his reach once more. The boy cursed at his misfortune and stalled to a halt almost colliding with the tree.

He instantly set off again after her in hope to gain ground that he lost. He looked her ahead; her waist-deep hair flowed from side to side almost hypnotically, glinting black diamonds in the noon sun. Her ruby coloured sandals were held firmly in her left hand, bobbing up down and down to the motions of her arm. The boy shook his head; I shouldn’t be distracted, he thought, attempting to focus his attention in ending the game. He added a burst of speed and closed the gap between him, the girl and ultimately the ribbon.

The two merrily ran on through the park, weaving and dodging the bushes, trees and anything else in their way that was peppered randomly throughout the landscape. They dared not use the paths in fear of any shards of glass that could potentially cut their feet so they resided on the grass that was so sparse proved to be more earth than grass. The few people that happened to be in the park, the ones who braved the unforgiving might of the early-afternoon sun for some peace and quiet, watched the duo with meek interest.

An assemblage of elderly men dressed in gold robes and decorative hats sat on uniformed benches, overlooking the sordid scenery of the village several miles away. They were congregated in a small talk of which wood makes the best walking sticks while the remarkable few that did not limp and not require such implements, sat in silence puffing ancient pipes, onerously checking their watches for the start of the next prayer. A delightful minority of the men laughed when they saw the girl and boy running past; the grumbled majority either stopped talking or paused smoking in mid-drag to shout at the two objectively only to be rightly ignored.

They resumed their ways, muttering to one another on the ignorance of today’s youth as a condolence to their egos. With grim determination, the boy neared the girl once again. It had taken two minutes but he was closer than ever; she was quicker than he last remembered but as he anticipated, she was quickly tiring. Within inches of her, he reached once more. His arms strained from their joints, almost within reach of winning this little bout. The ribbon tingled in the sunlight, swaying in the air enticingly, pleading to be taken. It’s calling my name, he thought with a smile.

His right leg buckled as his foot hit a precarious yet well hidden pothole and his left foot came down onto the ground rather weakly failing to compensate. But he surged on, urged on by victory, but he could no longer maintain his balance as his body followed pursuit of his arms. Velocity tried to pull him in to the ground but at the last moment in vain, he arched his back and with all his might, jumped forward in the air. He momentarily felt the smooth, silky fabric of the ribbon seductively dance against his fingertips and he instantly reacted, clutching his hands together but it snaked playfully out of his grasp and it was gone.

Then suddenly, the ribbon stopped moving, as did the girl, and he found himself in a heap of sweat, grass, mud, foreign limbs rasping for a breath. Dry mud was caked on his face, mingling with his complexion, he thought it caused him resemble the dark-coloured children in his class. Above, tufts of arid grass were stuck in his hair; a string of it, clumped together by impact of his fall, was perched comically on the black locks of his hair. It irritability strayed across his eyes making him blink uncontrollably.

His hands were dirty but after half a second of deliberating he decided better of it and roughly chafed his hair, shaking any debris out of the unmanageable mess that rested on his scalp. He continued with his face but it only attributed to making him dirtier so left it for the time being. He examined his clothes with a once over and his smile immediately faded: grass strains penetrated his white shorts and dark stains that he could only hope to be mud decorated the front of his pale yellow shirt.

Out of desperation he scratched at a brown smear at the base of his shorts but still it remained. The boy scorned at his attempts – He was a mess and nothing he could do now could fix that. If only I had been more careful, he wondered, hitting the earth in frustration with the heel of his fists. His mother would be angry. She warned him not to ruin his clothes – there was a shortage of water as more restrictions were imposed on the area – and she could not possibly afford to waste

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