Normally she didn’t go alone. She always ran with a buddy or in a small group, but today she didn’t have a choice. Nobody could make it this morning: Lily was sick, Brenda and Cheryl were out of town, and Meredith had a job interview at seven. Being a girl of few friends, and even fewer that voluntarily exercised, she had no other options; it was either run alone or don’t run at all. Dedicated as she was, she got up, got dressed, and headed out on her typical morning route. It was an easy six-miler; out three miles, turn around at the start of the golf course, and back three. She liked this run because it didn’t require any active thinking. She ran til she heard the watch beep for the third time, then she ran back. Simple. With her mind unoccupied by times, paces, and directions, she had time to appreciate the sounds and smells of the morning. She wasn’t the type of runner to drown out her workout with the scream of music in her ears. The music did help increase her stride and pace, but it made her breathing strained and irregular. It added a sense of anxiety to her run because she felt she needed to keep her pace in beat with the song. She also hated running with music because it distracted her from everything around her. There is something special about getting up before everyone else, before the traffic, before the sun rises. You get to witness the morning replace the night; animals scurry back to their homes, dew settles on the grass around your feet, and the twinkling of the stars is slowly phased out by the colors of the sunrise. A busy city is replaced by a quiet, ghost town, you being the sole occupant. The roar of midday traffic is replaced by the buzz of nocturnal insects, the hum of electric street lights, and the whisper of a subtle breeze.These were the things she cherished every morning.
This morning was different, though. She pondered this as she ran out past the college and down the side walk. It wasn’t because she was alone; she’s had to go on runs by herself before, not often, but it wasn’t a foreign thing to her. Still, she couldn’t figure out what was different and she thought that maybe she was just being paranoid. Her body naturally steered left, anticipating her turn onto Oak Street. She’s done this run a thousand times. What was so different about today then?She tried to focus her thoughts on the rhythm of her shoes hitting the pavement and her slow steady breaths. It soon became the only thing she could hear. That’s what it is, she thought. Her steps, her breaths, those were the only thing she could hear. The wind was still, the bugs were silent, and the hum of the street lights was suppressed. It was as if the whole world was holding its breath in quiet anticipation. She, the lone runner, was the only being that dared to break this silence. However, her rebellion would not be met without consequence.
TO BE CONTINUED