You are at a track meet. You are unable to pick up the phone, or you should be. You should be stretching, jogging back and forth, jogging backwards, anywhere but attached to your cell phone. Yes, your mother had a stroke and it is quite possible that she had it onyourwatch, and you blamed her odd expressions and slurred words on her drunkenness. It is possible that the clump of platelets that is now swimming around inside her is going to strike twice. It is possible that by not calling the ambulance on the night of her stroke, you have killed her. But you are at a track meet, and all you have wanted before today is the school’s steeplechase record. You have to run.
It is also possible that you got your girlfriend pregnant. It is possible that a little facsimile of you is twitching inside her right now. It is possible that she’ll keep it. It is possible that you’ll have to get a real job. At least it won’t be born until you after you graduate. Unless it’s born premature. Had she gotten drunk since conception? It’s hard enough raising a child; add the guilt and resentment of fetal alcohol syndrome or MS and you’re fucked. Life over. But you have to run. You are being called to the starting line.
Bang, flex, move. Slide. Step. Shoulder. Again. Cross. Step. Elbow. Jump. Land. Step. Push. Jump. Land. Pass. Shoulder. Jump. Splash. Twist. Roll. Up. Run. There are demons behind you. Jump. Land. Run. Can you hear them? Shove. Resist. Step. Jump. Land. Run. They know your name. Jump. Land. Big strides. Crowd. Focus. Step. Stepjump. Shitty. Land. They are coming. Jump. Land. Step. Pass. Gasp. Jump. Splash. You will not keep up. Step. Gasp. Faster. Jump. Land. Step. More. Gasp. More. More. Over.
People are slapping your back. You flinch, expecting claws. Friends are telling you that you broke the record, you killed it. You cannot breathe. The fear that you ran from crawls up your legs and into your torso. It tastes like acid when it reaches your throat. It does not matter how fast or how much you ran. The demons are in front of you now.