I wasn’t sure why I was running. It was instinct, I guess. All I knew was that there was a determination coursing through me that I had not known existed inside me before. I supposed it was because of her, because of the image of her face that had momentarily flashed behind my eyes. Her features were shocked, pained, although I did not know why I was seeing her that way. It seemed as though her piercing blue irises stared longingly back at me, although her skin retained the golden lustre that I knew so well.
The street seemed to bustle with activity, people stepping in my way, slowing me down. I fought against the crowd, knowing I was fighting for something. The sidewalk was lined with trees, each passing me as quickly as the last. I tried swerving between them, to avoid the walking people that didn’t have a care, but the fluttering autumn leaves confused me; the passionate colours of death surrounding me.
The night itself was cold but clear; my breath fogged the air in short, rasping intervals. However, as sweat began to develop beneath my arms and down my back from the exertion, I tore off my jacket, mid-stride, and grasped it tightly in my left hand. I had thought of grabbing a cab, but the stillness of sitting disconcerted me; too immobile, too much waiting. My burning legs, and lungs, spurred me onward.
My mind was oddly blank; I could not seem to develop a rational thought, only, Do not stop. It’s not too late. So I continued.
Minutes later, I was still running. The scenery had not changed at all, except, I noticed, for the sidewalk, which was now completely littered with the dead leaves. Another image of her face revealed itself to me. This time, the skin around her eyes and mouth had paled and become dull. I could not see her blue eyes this time, because they were lidded and unmoving.
My pace began to slow, a choice that was separate from my conscious decisions. My feet did not slap so hard against the pavement now. My breath still came quickly, laboured, until it, too, became slower and, finally, even. My mind seemed to come to an acceptance that my body still brusquely fought against. I should be running, it screamed through every nerve and every twitching muscle. Keep moving!
But it did not matter whether I ran or walked, whether I sat in a taxi or not.
I walked the ten paces to the nearest bench and sat upon it. The chill of the wood permeated my clothes and left me feeling lonely, as I expected it would. The dim light of the street lamp cast my shadow across the empty pavement, stretching it grotesquely into an unrecognizable darkness. I was the only one there now, the street void of life. With my jacket in my hand, my chin upon my chest, I didn’t know how I would get home.