Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction: Why Do You Run?

Every Friday Kurt posts a new piece of flash faction. This week...

Why Do You Run?
Word Count: 600

Why do you run? Where were you going? Where were you coming from?

You were long and lanky and unthinkably thin, like a fitness-obsessed millennial. Or a drug addict. It was hard to tell from the window. You clearly weren’t running for your health; I could tell that much. You didn’t look like a recreational runner. You didn’t have the lycra or the sweatpants or the earbuds that mark them. Your shoes were worn and dull, not vibrant and colorful. No one would jog through their neighborhood in shoes that sad-looking. Something was compelling you. What was it?

Why do you run? What drives you? Is it determination? If so, then to what end? Is it fear? Fear of what?

Fear of whom? Someone?

It’s silly to even think that, I know. This is a nice neighborhood full of nice people. This isn’t the sort of neighborhood where bad things happen. So that couldn’t possibly have been fear in your eyes. Clearly I was mistaken. I mean, really.

That playground you ran past—my children play there. That isn’t the kind of playground where bad things happen. I wouldn’t live so close to that kind of playground. I wouldn’t let my children play there. So, obviously, whatever you were running from, or whatever you were running to… I mean, there couldn’t have been any actual danger involved. And if there was, then you were right to keep going—to run straight on out into the next township. Where bad things do happen.

Why do you run?

It was raining, wasn’t it? As often as I think back, as often as I recall that look on your face—at the time I thought it was terror, but it obviously couldn’t have been terror—I lose other details. Were there sirens? I don’t think so. Was it raining? I’m pretty sure it was. Not a downpour but a drizzle, perhaps.

You want to know something funny? I almost called the police. I know, it was a silly idea, but that’s just instinct. I see someone running, I see fear in their face—mistakenly, of course—and I want to call the police. Who would blame me? But, honestly, what would I have told them? Someone is running through the neighborhood. Someone who doesn’t really look like a jogger. They wouldn’t have sent someone, and if they had, they wouldn’t have gotten here in time. You were running so very fast.

Why do you run?

I have a theory. Dozens, actually. Domestic dispute. Play-acting. Some elaborate prank. I could go on and on, but I’ll tell you that in every single one, you have a perfectly legitimate reason to be afraid and in every single one you wind up perfectly safe. Every single one. Because, really, what else could it be?

And you know what? In all of those scenarios, if the police had shown up, it just would have been embarrassing for all of us. I kid you not. Oh, we’d have a good laugh, but we’d all agree that it had been a waste of valuable time and resources to engage them.

So, why do you run?

How long has it been? Five years? Ten years? I really should have forgotten it by now. It’s not like I did anything wrong, and you were clearly in no danger. Not in my neighborhood. And this is truly silly of me, but I still poke my head out the window every now and then to look for you.

To see if I could stop you and ask a quick question.

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