It was cold, but that wouldn’t matter. Cold was a state of body, and she had complete control over it. It was only an issue of raising her knees higher, pushing off the rubbery tarmac harder, and swinging her arms wider. Her breath billowed out in foamy white plumes that broke apart as she ran through them.

The running track was deserted, and the little valley that it sat in was as quiet as death. A low mist hung over everything, and the highway that overlooked the training ground carried no traffic. She imagined that a great apocalypse had swept the rest of humanity away, like crumbs from a dirty tabletop.

Once more she passed over the starting line and tapped her watch to mark the lap. It was the twelfth time around, and she was starting to feel normal. It had been a hard week, one filled with an overbearing amount of pressure. She had been as diligent as possible in the removal of stressors from her life, yet still outside forces conspired to wreck what little spiritual balance she was able to reclaim. The solution had seemed simple. Meditate more. Exercise more. Love more. Be more compassionate and think less of herself whenever possible, instead substituting those selfish feelings with ones that focused on caring for others. Yet the more she tried to restore balance, the harder the world tried her patience.

She felt something give away inside, a black nettle that had lodged itself in her heart fell free, floated into her backdraft, and was carried away to rot. It was that penultimate wave of endorphins, and it bestowed the preternatural calm that comes with distance running and pushing the physical self to its limits. She sighed, the run became meditation, and she drifted away. As she slipped further into the unconscious realm of release, part of her wondered why she was so alone in her efforts.

2015.01.10 – 2023.08.11

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