February 11, 2014
Max and I got back to our hotel rooms and flopped on the bed. Two losses in a row had really drained our spirits. I turned over onto my back and closed my eyes, trying to take a nap.
An hour or so later, I woke up. Max was still sleeping, but I was starving. I threw on a jacket and walked out to the cafe.
I poured two cups a coffee, bought a bagel and sat down at a table. I spread cream cheese on my bagel and was taking a bite when a small Japanese girl walked up to the table.
"Um, excuse me, is that seat taken?" she asked.
"No, take it." I said.
"Thank you." she sat down across from me and ate her muffin.
"You're Lena's friend, right?" I asked.
She swallowed. "Yeah, actually. You're Ryan?"
"Yeah. Nice to meet you."
"Same here. I'm Renai."
We sat for a little while, her eating and me sipping. The event on the T.V. ended and switched to something else.
"Hey, it's biatlon!" Renai said. I looked up at it too.
Women lined up at the starting line, skis on their feet and guns on their backs. They were tensed up, ready to sprint off and compete for the ultimate prize.
"Look, there's Lena, in the back!" Renai shook me and pointed. I looked and saw her, goggles and uniform on, ready for the race.
"I hope she does well." I said.
Renai looked at me. "She won't win, you know."
"Yeah." I said. "I'm pretty sure she does too."
"Then why does she do it?"
"She can compete on the world stage. If she can do at least a little better than her best, she's happy." I looked to her. "I don't expect I'll be taking the gold in curling, but I'm not complaining."
"I guess you're right." Renai said. "I guess it's different for me."
I glanced at her sideways. "Figure skater?"
"Yeah." she said. "How'd you know?"
"Just a guess." I stood up. "Well, I need to get going. It was nice meeting you Renai."
"Oh, yeah, same here, Ryan." she said, turning back to the T.V.
I walked back up to the room. Max was just waking up when I shoved the coffee into his hands and rubbed his back.
"You feeling okay?" he asked when I sat down next to him.
"Yeah." I said, thinking about Lena, up there in the mountains, skiing and shooting.