short story about a run
The other day I decided to go running. Getting a mile or so under my feet is usually a good way for me to keep some control. It's a way to discipline myself without hurting myself. My problem is, as with many things, I don't always know when to stop. On this particular run, I surpassed the gagging that tends to happen around the halfway mark on a mile (I'm not much of an endurance runner just yet). So there I was running literal circles around a local track at the nearby high school. The monotony was starting to bore me but I still wanted to run. I figured I could take a lap around the block to wear myself out a little. But this was just a bigger circle to me. It wasn't nearly as satisfying as I had hoped. I wanted to go further. I wanted to go faster.
So I ran to the gas station and grabbed an energy drink. Then I ran through the neighborhood, out of the residential district and into the outskirts of the city. I ran past the suburbs, making little time to stop. I hadn't even thought about the fact that my car was still parked at the track by the high school. The jingling sound of my keys had long been drowned out. The faces of everyone I passed looked the same. The houses looked the same. The cars looked the same. I wanted to see something different. I ran until my surroundings were unrecognizable. I ran uphill and downhill until the city was behind me. I ran until the pavement turned to dirt and the buildings turned to trees. And then I ran until the trees turned to blue sky. I ran so far I could no longer feel the ground beneath my feet. I ran straight into the arms of a cloud that promised she would catch me.
And she did. Her arms were soft and blissful. My legs dangled without a care, without weight. She whirled me playfully through the sky. Taking me to the edge of the atmosphere, she tossed me up like a child anticipating a return to their father's safety. It was then that I got a taste of the moon. Pure euphoria, a salty sweet enchantment of the tongue, took over before I drifted back down to my beloved cloud. She whispered to me, seductively, "This is as high as you can go, my dear." Just at that moment, the entity holding me so tenderly dissipated at once.
An angry, vengeful force struck me down. It was thick and consuming, disapproving of my place among the clouds. "You do not belong here!" it howled. It threw me down immediately without reverence. I watched that sweet moon fade away, sure that I would never see it again. I watched the trees and the city and the neighborhoods all pass by in a blur. I tried to reach for anything to hold onto; anything to slow the fall, but it was too late. I hit the ground with such intensity that I ended up far below the Earth's crust. Just as far down as I had been high it seemed. I could no longer see the moon, or the clouds, or even the track where my run had began. All of that was far away now.
That damned force had plummeted me into the core of the Earth. I lay broken and bloodied from the fall, pummeled by the gravity that dragged me out of bliss. I cursed it. I cursed gravity for this despair. I cursed the cloud for her release. And I cursed the run for leading me to it all.
Rocks and soil began to fall from the walls of the hole I'd made. They buried me and I didn't even notice. I did not, could not, fight it. I was exhausted. I was numb. I tried convincing myself that I did not want to be buried alive. But still, a part of me did. A part of me wanted to choke on that dirt with all the energy I had left. A part of me wanted my last breath to be filled with hot ash and soil. And the other part of me just sat quietly and said nothing. I thought about how I missed my cloud. I thought about the gravity that took her away from me. I thought about the run.
Something happened under the weight of those crumbling walls. Somehow, my bones had set and mended. Somehow, my lungs rejected the soil with an indiscriminate cough. Somehow, the numbness faded and my body moved out of the dirt with zombie-like dexterity. The walls kept falling only this time I was aware of the anxiety that came from being buried alive. The more rocks I avoided the higher I seemed to get. They still piled up, but beneath me. I could hear the cloud begging me to come back up. I could feel the gravity taunting me to just stay down, avoid the fall. I needed balance. I needed solidarity within myself.
So I went for a run.