My feet pounded on the empty highway heading out of town. Never much traffic out here. I like that.
Scuff scuff–scuff scuff–scuff scuff.
I always had an unusual cadence, landing harder on my left foot. I focused on matching my breathing to my footfalls, but soon my mind wandered away again.
“Stop with that stupid running!” my mom screamed at me, her green eyes wild beneath her frazzled, curly orangey-red hair. I looked just like her. “I’ll die from it! You will kill me!”
“No, mom. You will,” I replied coldly. I walked away from her. Again. Always. I swear the woman has ten times as many heartbeats as anyone else for as often as she gets worked up about nothing.
I run to get away from her. No one will give me a job. I want to be a professional runner. It’s a hard career to get into. They say only crazy people want to do sports. Suicidal people. People who can’t wait to die.
It’s not true. Not for me.
Some people save their heartbeats for love. For children.
If love is what my mother has for me, I don’t want it. If this is what having children does to you, I don’t want them. I want to run. I want to be free. Where it’s quiet. Where she isn’t yelling at me. I hate that I look like her. Everyone knows we’re related. They pity her. Her. If only they knew.
I glance at my watch. Almost two hours. Nearly sixteen miles. I could do a marathon in just over three hours. Not fast enough. I need to go faster. I need to train harder. How can I train harder with her always yelling at me when I lace up my shoes to leave?
Scuff scuff–scuff scuff–scuff scuff
Ten miles later, I arrive back home. I am drenched with sweat. Gloriously tired. I walk around the block to cool down. I see the stares of our neighbors as I walk, slowing down my breathing, drinking my recovery drink that I stashed in our bushes.
I can’t delay it any longer. I really need to pee. I need to get inside.
I walk back into the house, surprised that mom didn’t greet me at the door. Whatever. I sneak downstairs and into the bathroom. Ahh…relief. I might as well take a shower while I’m in here too. There is nothing better than a scalding hot shower after a long run. I stand in there longer than I should. Why isn’t mom yelling at me? Maybe she went out.
I finish up and get dressed in my room. I’m starving. I need to eat something. My body is starting to shake. I walk back upstairs and glance into the front room. That’s when I see her, sitting in her green chair. Her head is lolled back, her eyes glazed over.
I breathe a sigh of relief.
Now I can train.