'First Loser' by Kevlin Henney

Tears don’t hold back by themselves. You have to work at it.

And how Taylor had worked. Before the race, during the race and, now, after the race. Sam had taken the lead early and had kept it, no matter how hard Taylor had tried.

Taylor stood to Sam’s right on the 2–1–3 boxes. They shared a sadness, but Sam’s was one of absence and regret, a hopeful-against-the-odds scan of parents’ faces, other children’s parents.

Taylor’s father would not look over at the makeshift podium. Taylor’s mother hid her gaze behind dark glasses and pursed lips. But sharpness leaked from the edges of her mask, speaking of disappointment, unforgiveness and the “could have done better”, “should have done better” conversation to come.

Taylor turned away, looking left to where Ash stood waving, parents waving back, taking photos, raising small siblings chanting “Ash”, pointing, applauding, smiling. Ash smiled back, a winner.

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