A short fictional account

Victor Hamlisch was not a gymnast. He wasn’t trained as a gymnast. He wasn’t built like a gymnast. And unlike a gymnast, Victor lost all awareness of his body and its position in the air whenever he broke connection with the earth, such as when he jumped off a diving board as a young boy. But five years ago in Fairmount Park, not long after sunrise, Victor broke a gymnastics record—by a stunning margin. With no equipment and no safety gear, Victor landed a tumbling move that no other gymnast in history had even thought to imagine—a forward flip in layout position with twelve rotations and eight full twists.

On the last rotation, Victor bent his knees to absorb the impact on the grass. His eyes pointed sharply downward searching for the ground to return to his field of vision, because the forward motion meant Victor’s landing would be blind and sudden. Victor hit the ground hard. He used all of the strength that remained in his body to stop the flipping and twisting. It worked. When Victor finally stood up, he stretched out his arms and opened his eyes wide. The park was empty at this hour. He heard the leaves in the nearby trees still shaking from the commotion. He looked back where he had started and traced each footprint along his path to the deep grooves where his feet were now firmly planted.

Victor would never tell anyone what he had done. In the years that followed, his friends and family noticed something different in Victor, and Victor also noticed that he saw the people close to him in a new light. But what amazed Victor the most, what he couldn’t explain, was the joy he began experiencing when talking with strangers.



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