higher, further, faster.
It's all done. When she wakes up on Saturday, March 9, 2019 -- hungover, but only from affection, the shrieking laughter of a four-year-old, and too much ice-cream -- something feels different. There's a dose of cold terror, knowing that a jury of her contemporaries are judging her studies; reading and dissecting the work that her life has amounted to up until this very point, and yet.. She's up early, carefully extricating herself from bed. With a click pen, she draws a tiny smile on his palm and presses a kiss to his temple, setting the coffee to brew while she's away.

She'll be back before the drip cools with a wild tale to share.. But there's one last study she's needs to conduct while the world around her is none the wiser. It's seven in the morning, and she's telling Siri to take her to the local Y.. Where she tightens her shoelaces, and threads her ponytail through the crimson Stanford cap one more time.

After she cracks her knuckles and rocks her weight forward from heel to toe, Cara's body is carried faster than her body can actually accommodate; given the sudden shift in her center-of-gravity and sputtering start, Davies hits the ground hard. She ducks her shoulder and rolls; ripping into the expensive lululemon leggings, and earning twin scratches on the brunts of her palms. Her single companion at this hour (a white-haired old man in tinted glasses and a windbreaker combo) hoots his concern in her direction, and when she pushes herself up, waving it off, something ignites. Something deep, flickering into a roar that seems to pull her back up without much thought at all. It's in there, Cara coaches herself; abiding by an old self-encouragement brought to the surface with a frustrated grunt and increase in speed.

Her strides get longer, her traction firmer as she sprints herself down the artificial, tacky surface of the track, all but growling as she feels herself lean into the first curve. One leg bends, she tilts.. It all works this time. There's a certain synchronicity with which she slices through the world around her, and when she catches herself falling.. Her body compensates. It twists and she recovers faster than she'd even had the thought to do so, evading the pinwheel effect entirely. It's in there. Come on, she repeats to herself, breathless and exhilarated when she turns up the effort just one more time. There's gas in the engine, and she's determined to see what it can do.

The old man in the jogging suit is gone now, she realizes. This time, it's only her.

With that thought in mind, Cara powers around the track again, brows down in thought. A mild-mannered Southern belle. An alcoholic. A tomboyish little sister. An athlete. An elite student and mind. She hurtles her way through all the lives she's had, smashing through all the titles and nicknames and judgements, and she can swear there's a small pop behind her when she digs her toes into the ground. She sprints toward every single mantle that's been rested comfortably, by others -- to their relief, onto her shoulders. She's a blur of blonde hair and tanned skin when she rounds the third bend, and this time, when her foot slams down on the track, she soars, carried about twelve feet forward by her own momentum. The trees actually crack and shift with the vacuum she creates, and when her feet lift a few inches off the ground, that determined grimace breaks into something comical.

This time, when she hits the ground in a shocked heap, Cara huffs, sprawling out onto the cushioned, faux-clay surface of the outdoor track. She laughs, both as clear and distinct as a brass bell, before she's able to gather her thoughts into anything resembling coherence.

".. No way," she manages, bewildered by the fact that she's hardly breathless and entirely missing the telltale burn of a good sprint. Cara can't help but look up at the sky, wondering if the last twenty minutes had actually happened at all. Judging by the phantom trickle of blood on her knee, it did. When her gut coaxes her to get up one more time, she doesn't question it. When her grin spreads, she doesn't hide it. There's a daring response to the challenge in her heart, and when she takes off sprinting for what she's deigned her final interval, Cara doesn't hold back.

The audible 'pop' happens again when she speeds up, cracking through some sort of threshold, when she digs in with her feet and leans into the wind that's threatened to topple her backward. Cara's arms throw themselves forward when she leaps into the air, and for a moment, she sails -- a product of her own inertia and basic physics. That's all it is though, and it takes a military tuck and roll to keep her limbs from cracking against the ground. The hat flies off into a puddle, and one of her palms strikes the ground so hard, the chain-link fence rattles.. But her collision with the ground is painless.

If anything, the jarring, violent impact's unleashed something entirely new. Something bright.

When she arrives home about twenty minutes later, there's a steaming pot of coffee and a bleary-eyed man in the kitchen. The look on his face when she walks in the door (looking like she's both been caught in a wind-tunnel and a wrestling match with a rose bush) is something that Cara wishes she could both solve and document all at once. Instead, she gives herself one last once-over, feeling the blush rise into her face. She's a mess.

"I can't fly," she proclaims.