I went running around the lake today. When I was younger, running was loud, the scream of unbridled freedom ringing in my ears and the roar of rebellion pounding through my brain. I’d run away from the seven-year old girl with cooties, and scamper across the field on my way to the neighborhood baseball game. Running was the uninhibited expression of excitement and liberty.
Today, running means feeling the air, polluted with impurities, touching my face, wondering why the sun couldn’t be made of cotton to dry me off. Each step is a reminder of youth’s simplicity, of what once was. Some say speed makes you high, that intense rush of adrenalin coursing through your veins, pushing you to greater limits, helping you attain that climactic moment of athletic ecstasy. At my age, things have changed, and I no longer concur. I feel the cartilage deteriorating, the lactic acid burning. My lungs, like inflated balloons hovering over the needle called over-exertion, tell my story with each breath. In front of me, I see the attractive woman, slender and toned, trotting to her morning Starbucks and pondering the path to her next yoga class. I increase my stride, and hear the pop. They say aneurysms are silent, but I disagree. Though it is morning, the sky is turning darker. I no longer hear those sounds of childhood. Running has become quiet, the only voice my own, mockingly suggesting I can push on. And now I lie here, with my right cheek in the dirt, hands outstretched, begging for someone to call 911, hoping the ambulance will appear in time, knowing it will not be. This is my final pose, the one they will draw the chalk outline around, the one the kids will tell stories about as they trample the ground where I once lay. I hear the sirens…I see a sideways face bending over me…I hear a sound…and then nothing.