My lover has watched her all day, fallen a touch in love with her blonde hair, the way she won’t look him in the eye, her stories of departure. What cannot be carried is left behind. He imagines not slippers beside her bed, but a valise and shoes made for sprinting. He calls her a runner. He smiles a little.
He takes me home, and when he drives away, I know that I have loved him, but nothing can be the same between us. I will whisper in a week or so that I am no runner, that I have planted trees in the backyard and haven’t bought a ticket out-of-town in a decade. This will be our code. We will let it come apart now.
It is the only lie I’ve told.
Only those who run for sport think of shoes. True runners know that you sprint best barefoot, nearly naked, and you only do it once if you can help it. You take nothing. There can be no baggage. You are not traveling. You are running. You sleep nowhere and when you stop, you build a fortress. You do it alone, because the workmanship must be exacting. You rest inside. You get dressed. You encourage your feet to heal as best they can. You forgive them the callouses and the scars (they reveal you–you have to forgive them this). You learn to accommodate small bits of fear so that when confronted with it again you will have a tolerance–you will be able to stand your ground.