Marcia Mickelson’s “The Huaca” has only been on the market officially for three days now, but thanks to our Fiction Fest series, you should be familiar with the the book already and, hopefully, are eager to buy it!
Mickelson teaches third grade in Texas and has longed to reach students through her writing.
“As a teacher, I love to see how literature opens up a new world for students,” Mickelson said. “I have seen my students and my kids pick up books that they can’t put down. There are so many great authors writing for young people right now, and I have wanted to be a contributor to that for a long time.”
You can pick up a copy of “The Huaca” in book stores and on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com and BooksAndThings.com.
After practice, Coach Dennis critiqued our performance and tried to get us geared up for the next practice. I wondered how many people would drop out between now and then. I sat on the field as the group dispersed. My calves were aching, and I spent a few minutes stretching, berating myself for not keeping up with running in the off-season.
I watched the track clear out slowly, the cooled-off bodies beginning to feel the icy chill in the air. I felt the frosty lawn beneath me, cool moisture penetrating the thick black fabric of my Lycra running pants. I didn’t care though. It felt good. The cold feeling was numbing, and I wanted to stay on the frosty lawn right in the center of the track.
Just ahead of me, Gabe De La Cruz was walking around the track, cooling off. Despite the frigid weather, he had worked up a sweat, evident by the wet trail that ran down the course of his back. He stretched his arms over his head, and the muscles in his back rippled under his white T-shirt. He turned around quickly and caught my eyes just before I could turn my head away. I looked out onto the bleacher stands and then toward the parking lot, but my eyes were automatically drawn back to Gabe as I sensed he was walking toward me.
This time, his eyes held mine as he closed the distance between us. He stopped just short of reaching me. He bent down to pick up a gray hooded sweatshirt just a few feet from where I sat. Turning his eyes away from me, he pulled the sweatshirt over his head. I took the opportunity to look away from him and focus on the poor movements I was attempting to pass off as stretching.
Despite my focused attempt to look nowhere near his direction, I saw him continue toward me. He dropped down to the ground beside me, draping his arms over his lanky bent legs.
“Feels good, right? A run like that?” he said.
Nothing about running on this wintry day felt good, and the thought made me question myself for doing winter track for about the twentieth time that day. “I guess,” I said.
He looked at me, running a hand through his brown, wavy hair. I pulled my eyes away from his hair, and they inadvertently traveled down his arm to his hand, which moved to the grass between us. He ran his fingers through the cold grass, plucking up small bunches and letting the short brown blades fall back to the ground. He repeated the action—grabbing and tossing small bits of grass—over and over, as he shifted his eyes from me to the grass between us. Maybe he was thinking of something to say. Maybe he was nervous.
“You going to do hurdles again this year?”
Hurdles? I tried hurdles once last year, at the insistence of Coach Dennis, who’d wanted me to give them a try. It had been one lucky practice, followed by one terribly demoralizing meet in which I’d tripped twice over the hurdles and had come in last place.
“No,” I said. “I doubt Coach Dennis wants me anywhere near the hurdles. I suck.”
“You weren’t that bad,” he said, his hands still plucking grass, his eyes still on me. A slight smile came to his lips.
“You don’t have to say that.”
“You could do it,” he said. “You have the leg strength. You just need to work on your rhythm a little.”
My eyes went instinctively to my legs, wondering how he would be able to gauge my leg strength. I looked back at him, and he flinched, probably realizing how awkward that had sounded.