St Moritz

A short story I wrote as an exercise for the weekly Faber Academy #QuickFic competition. This week they asked for stories inspired by a randomly-selected Wikipedia article, which happened to be about Sverre Farstad, a Norwegian speed skater and Olympic gold medallist. This is my take on the prompt. You can read the winning entries here.

St Moritz

He was years dead before I learned about St Moritz. Two generations between us – a grandson and a son – and neither of them had thought to mention it.

It was a strange sort of secret to keep, even as a child I understood that. But I was too young to ponder the reasons, and the medal in its velvet box was far more interesting.

They let me play with it, and I’d go running round the neighbourhood flashing it to incredulous kids. Telling them they couldn’t touch it.

‘This is the gold medal my great-grandfather won at the Olympic Games,’ I explained. ‘It’s a precious family heirloom.’ And they’d laugh in disbelief.

Only the weight of it thumping against my belly as I ran, let me know it was real. That the secret family history was true.

In the garden I built podiums from cushions and chairs, and stood on the golden spot wondering how it would feel to win for real.

Though I didn’t imagine him. How it felt for him to hold that heavy prize in his hands, believing it would be for this that he would be remembered.

That was something which would come later in the cold blue air on top of the Diavolezza.

As I looked out over the Bernina massif, I thought I heard the roar of a crowd, the scratch of blades on ice. Laughter. Though perhaps it was just the wind.

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