64) Howl At The Moon

I never go running in the dark and I don’t run with music on anymore. Since the accident I make sure to go running in the middle of the day with no earphones in, fully aware of the track and my surroundings. I’m careful, always always hyper cautious, watching for potential accidents and dangers. The darkness scares me now, the unknown and the shadows reminding me of my fragility.

 

 

Today was busy and I didn’t get a free moment until the sky turned candy floss pink and the sun dipped below the mountains. I watched it drop, sad that I didn’t get a chance to go for a run, proud that I had squeezed every second of daylight into my photoshoot but wishing I had saved some daylight for myself.

 

I’ve noticed a shift happening lately, something awakening in me and I felt it again as I stood at the window looking longingly out.

 

Just do it my insides said.

Photo 5-08-20, 8 58 19 PM

 

And so I laced up my running shoes, pulled on a jacket, opened the door and jogged out to greet the darkness of the evening that I usually hide behind the curtains. I popped earphones in and they blasted high tempo music that seemed to disturb the dusk like a stone landing in a still lake.

My eyes adjusted to the darkening light in the sky as I ran through the deserted streets. I made it to the main road leading out of Arrowtown and glaring headlights from passing cars lit the way intermittently for a few seconds before plunging me back into the dark again.
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After a few cars had nearly blinded me, I veered left and off the road down a country lane. The darkness engulfed me instantly and I slowed my run to let my night vision catch up. When it did it made out ghostly shapes darting away from me on either side of the track, rabbits scattered as my feet pounded the earth, my breath coming faster and faster as I sped up.

 

Now on the deserted country trail, I pushed myself hard, I ran until my breathing was laboured and my lungs ached, I pushed harder still and I could barely hear the music over the sound of my heartbeat racing in my ears. I ran faster and harder until my body felt like it would break, until my legs begged for me to stop, until a feral sound escaped my lips as I pushed my limbs past their previous limit.

I kept running in the darkness and suddenly I hit that sweet spot, that feeling when you’re running when your mind finally stops fighting. It gives in and suddenly nothing hurts and you just might be flying rather than running. In that moment the world was empty except for my feet pounding the dirt track, the soles of my shoes biting into the soft earth with every step. Nothing else existed or mattered just the rhythm of my run and the air in my lungs and the blood rushing in my ears.
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The moon suddenly peered over a mountain top as I rounded a corner and woke me from my trance. It shone on a wet patch of mud up ahead of me and I slowed my pace to avoid it. The spell was broken and I slowed to a walk. I pulled the earphones from my ears and stared up at the moon, letting my breathing return to normal, my body feeling more alive than it had in a very long time.

The shift was happening again, something else woke up inside me, little bubbles of memories, of who I used to be before the accident had changed everything. I felt strong and I started to run again. The sky got even darker and the moon was covered by passing clouds as I got further from the town, as I ran the track that lead to the mountains. I relied on my feet to find their own way on the uneven trail shrouded in almost pitch blackness now as the moon poked out now and then to light up the slippery mud patches.

 

As I crossed the last bridge the clouds cleared and the moon slithered into the rushing waters underneath the bridge, making it look like millions of silver fish were swimming together. I had turned left again and veered off the track back towards the road when I noticed I wasn’t alone. The moon was behind me now and it had cast my shadow in such a way that it looked like someone was running beside me.

 

I slowed to a walk for the last kilometre and let my heart rate return to normal and my legs stretch themselves out. Shadow Sarah did the same and we walked the last stretch home in silence.

When I reached the front door the porch light came on and she disappeared into the night.

 

She took my fear of the darkness with her.

 

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