Verse Exercises

A portfolio for her verses

Running in the dark

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This is the reworked version of a short fiction written in 2006 for Sigaw, the UP Kalayaan Dormitory residents’ publication.

Soft sunlight streamed through the great blanketing canopies as a light wind rustled through the leaves. It’s a Sunday morning, early, silent. I walk aimlessly, content to have the wind lifting my hair into wisps, flowing through, caressing my cheeks. I wonder if he’ll come like he said he would.

It used to be Sunday mornings I ran with him in the hours of dawn. He, like me, loved the heavy cold, the eerie silence of empty streets, and the grayness of early morning. It seems too long ago now since our last run. I’ve been too bent on forgetting the companionable silences, the steady rhythm we had learned to feel for in the dark. Used to be his strides fell in step with mine perfectly. It’s my fault that we don’t run anymore.

He had once said, “Hey, you. Don’t keep to yourself too much. Get some friends. Don’t make do with me.” I had laughed it off. I guess I didn’t understand what he meant. Instead, I’d learned to listen to his breath to know how much more he could go along with me.

We used to keep track how many times we went around the oval. It was a mantra to make it to one more round each time. These days, I can’t even make a circuit. My breath is too short. I give up too quickly.

After we stopped running, I sometimes wondered what he was up to, if he still ran on alone. But I had no way of knowing. I deleted all his numbers, his contacts, whatever. I only wanted to blot him out. I was left with the rhythm, the silent beat that had become ours. I had it even when he wasn’t running beside me. I stopped running altogether.

It was that one night that did it, one of the rare night runs, one of the rare post-run talks while we rested our legs at the sunken garden. He had stopped talking all of a sudden.

“What are you thinking?” he’d noticed my silence.

“I think I like you.” I had quietly replied.

For once, he didn’t have a ready response. The silence was frantic with his thinking. Then with the wind still and silent, with our steady breaths the only sound in the darkness, he said “Lisa, I like guys.”

It’s been so long. The hard muscles have begun to grow soft. Then when I thought I didn’t really care anymore, he calls, says he wants to run again. I could hear him breathing through the phone. It took a long time before I realized he was waiting for me to talk. I was really just listening. His breathing was steady. So was mine.

“You still there?”

“Yeah. I want to run with some sunlight. That okay?”

“Sounds fine to me.” He suggested a day and time, then hung up.

I only wanted to run again. But I needed someone to be there when I felt the rush, needed a voice to be in my ears like a steady anchor, so I didn’t lose myself to the singing joy of my exerting flesh. But I can’t run in the gray light anymore, at least not yet. What I needed was the liberating warmth of the sun.


Written by thedoe

December 31, 2006 at 10:13 pm

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