©2017 by The Highly Indy Project

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cross-country

Reema Demopoulos

March 8th, 2019

I run as soon as the gunshot echoes through the park, the park that we’ve run through a million times in practice but this is my first time running without him. we’re barely to the trees and i’m already tired, though when I’m with him I can clear the path and make it up the hill without breaking a

 

sweat trickles down my chest, though from the running or the summer heat I can’t tell. he told me to focus on my breathing so I breathe, just breathe like in two three and out two

three more minutes, if I’m running this

 

right turn at the bottom of the hill, coming out of the woods now and I see him standing on the side, he’s standing there, he’s here. you never come to my races, but I know he always will.

Running under the summer sun becomes running on top of the fallen leaves, running through the

 

trees that I climb to be alone. alone I can think of him, and up there I feel like I’ll never have to

 

Come down! you yell, reprimand in your voice, but you stand among the leaves on the ground and I am with

 

the sun loosens our smiles, smiles that widen and squish our eyes and give way to easy laughs. laughing as he kisses the top of my head and I look up and kiss his lips from my tiptoes, and then our feet continue side by side through

 

the park is different when I’m not running, and the wind is

 

biting like his teeth on my ears. pinching like I want to wake up like I want it to stop but it’s hard to tell him, hard like he’s pressing up against me now and I want to go I want him to let me go but not like this, not like the way he lets me go, the way like the feeling won’t let go. like I still feel his fingers trailing up the insides of my legs running away, running away from the beeping of the machine that stands over your head, your head that doesn’t look like your head except maybe underneath the crusty dried blood and the swelling the swelling like the welling of tears in my eyes

 

not for you but for her, as she cries for you, as she sleeps and wakes not in her own bed but next to your white one, among the white beds and blue masks and bright lights that

 

I can’t stand the bright lights so I am running, running through the woods where light flickers in and out of the trees, running like I am light as a feather, running like I can run at the speed of light and faster than the speed of light, too fast to fall like you fell, so fast that I will never fall.

 

 

falling like I can’t open my eyes, falling falling am I still falling? falling like plunk plunk plunk plunk as feet fall, fall to the ground, hit the ground, my feet should be hitting the ground but instead they lie on it like I do, I lie on the ground like I lie to myself, when I say I won’t give up I can get up and I will get up, but I don't

 

Get up! is what I think is coming, what I know someone must say someone will say it someone will come— any minute now— any moment now—