Photo Finish

By Dana Bowman

Contemplating the beginning of a run is like contemplating world peace,  cumbersome and impossible.  She proceeded anyway, and slowly her jangled nerves and tired muscled eased into a rhythm.  The soft pad, pad, pad of her feet against the sodden leaves on the road kept time with her heartbeat.  A squirrel skittered across her path, and one of the neighbor dogs barked longingly at her as she passed.  The town felt quilted from loud sounds by the cold.

It was Saturday evening, so she avoided Main street.  Usually this was a favorite part of her run, always someone to wave to; the glowing windows filled with antiques and snow shovels or cheerful floral displays.  But this night she headed out of town, to the dirt road that would lead her to fields brown with stubble. She craved a solitary place so badly it made her grimace.  The dirt road was lumpy and damp, slowing her considerably.  This, she realized, was good.  She could watch things.  She could just run and breathe and look.   In the distance, a creek bed was laced with more of the inky black trees, their branches like spidery cracks in a windshield.  The night glowed behind them creating cut images and silhouettes in the blue.  On a fencepost she actually spotted a hawk waiting for some poor field mouse.  It fluffed its feathers and posed for her, looked cross.  No meal yet.   Tonight was not for speed or pacing or tempo runs.  Tonight was a night to run as far away as possible.  And then, run farther still.

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