Running

Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha…her feet kept all of time and space bound up as with ribbons in the rhythm of the universe. Cha-Cha-Cha…thought, breath, thought, breath, ‘See guys, you really can take turns; no need for impatience.’ She turned a corner, stifled a cough and dodged a biker simultaneously. (Yonder random voice of the past: “Women really are better at multi-tasking, you know…”) Cha-Cha-Cha-Shlop-Shlop-Shlap… ‘Feet can say anything we want them to’ she thought. Heaving, she noted the tickle of a single drop of sweat as it squeezed it’s way out of it’s pore and slid off her upper lip to find it’s way back to the ocean, presumably. She resolved not to pay heed to her tickle; if you’ve got an itch, don’t scratch it…if you do it’ll spread and multiply into a billion baby itches; if you ignore it, it’ll go away. Shlap-Shlap-Shlap…she allowed her body to enter that of her mother’s; same, that; mother—baby—womb—jog, jog. Trippitty-Trap-Trap…‘I am my mother 15 years ago, when I was 7…yes, I was 7, 15 years ago and I looked out of our huge window in our rickety house in the middle of somewhere that I didn’t really like living and I wondered, mommy, where are you? If someone kidnaps you when you’re jogging we’ll have to live with dad alone and that would be bad. That would be not okay. Damn grandma and her abduction stories; clippings from newspapers; an unhealthy obsession—especially for a grandma…’ Dada-Dada-Dada-Dada-Dada…

 

She loved to admire the contours of her calf-muscle’s shadows as she ran. No color, no blemish, just shape. Shape and form. Good healthy form. It was always important to eat something very small before jogging; something big and you’d get a stitch. Downhills especially with her lips tightly ‘O’ shaped she would take intent, shallow breaths as though she were giving birth to something new, perhaps a new form of her own figure. ‘Funny’ she thought ‘how things that are familiar, yet not specifically so just reek with nostalgia, like this lack of pavement, like these sun stains on these dirt paths and these kaleidoscopic tree-tops that, joining hands, create gateways into alternate times and…’ her thoughts strayed. ‘Who am I fucking kidding? Nostalgia is just another figment of illusion, another meandering lie, another useless excuse to justify the notion that humans are so delightfully special.’ She could scarce hear her own breath anymore. She conquered a small hill, or protuberance, if you will, strategically avoiding what appeared to be a large pile of cow dung, but she couldn’t imagine anyone herding a tour group of cows up Mount Royal. She looked straight ahead to keep a good posture, the muted jingle of passers-by in perfect harmony all the while with her pure and unimportant role in memory and the rest of it all.

 

What must her mother’s gut have felt like as she beat that familiar dirt road again and again? (Sometimes with her three children lagging behind her on their bikes, sometimes ziggy-zaggying up ahead, waiting for her to catch up). To have lived as a child in this bewildering, musty city, car-horns and all, and now, to live among farmhouses and curvaceous roads. Though gorgeously uncorrupted, those roads deserved more of her than what she had given them. What must her dear mama have thought of on those days that she ran alone, the surface layer of her husband’s madness, built up so thick upon her threshold, being slowly scraped off and absorbed, sopped up all sweaty into her sister’s discarded computer logo t-shirts. Layer by layer, she would sweat and scrape them all away, like so many layers of burnt milk. Would her heart pour into her stomach as she approached the long narrow driveway after her running was over? Would she swallow dry, hoarse dread with the anticipation of another outburst? On those days that her mother’s legs took a little longer than usual to fulfill their wholesome, hearty task (perhaps she was merely tired that day), he would go searching in the van, not with concern, but with suspicion. Never worry with him; always suspicion. Always a reason to scream and scream. Never mind that his kids had spent the better part of their weekend stacking wood for the winter, never mind that he called them names so they would work faster. Never mind that his own father’s behaviour had been worse than his was. In spite of everything, if someone had failed to put the cap back on the orange juice say, or if one of his pens had gone missing, there would be absolute hell to pay.

 

She reached the lookout atop Mount Royal, stole a sip (much left to be desired) from the fountain, and strolled silently, head up across the platform with the binocular-devices and the flocks of cardiganed elderly, the schools of inner-city fish, the Persian tour groups. But where had the cow dung come from? Maybe it was actually horse shit; she had seen quite a number of police galloping gaily to and fro on unfortunate horses. She would pass by the various ensembles of people, simultaneously inhaling the sky and stretching her neck, all the while returning to the path to run back down. Such was her routine and she observed it religiously. The first step back down was always the hardest but the feeling would soon transform into an elated sort of come down (all too rare these days) and she loved anticipating this with all of her humble and proud selves combined.

 

 

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