by Marie McCloskey
It’s only me and my feet hitting the pavement. My heart thumps along as I breathe in and out with the rhythm. I inhale and a rush of cool air fills my lungs.
I turn a corner and headlights wash out the last of the darkness. I’m used to it. The sun begins to lighten the waking sky and I look down the sidewalk. Soon more cars will pass. I could change course and go through the park. The heavy fog of exhaust burns my lungs, but today I welcome the pain.
A familiar Mercury Marquee comes into view up ahead and I refuse to blink. I squint and try to see the features of the driver, the love of my life. The glare on the windshield keeps her hidden. I laugh as the car’s dead shocks squeal when she hits a bump.
She’ll never trade that piece of shit in. The old boat is falling apart, but it was her father’s. It’s the only thing she has left of him.
We had a good run. I wonder if things could have been different. What did I do wrong? Could I have been there for her more?
She always said she needed me. I used to take pride in being her protector, but now I think she needed a real father, an actual mother, and maybe someone better.
I treated her alright, but I was no prince. Maybe it’s her fault for the expectation of one. Maybe it’s my fault for not offering more. Hell, I know it’s at least partially her parents’ fault. Her mom left, her dad drank and then he died.
She never had a chance. I refuse to change my course because we never had a chance. I deserve to see her pass by. I hope she sees me too.
Does she look at me as I sweat out the pain? I wonder and jog ahead.
◊ ◊ ◊
When not adventuring and chasing after mini versions of herself, Marie also has time to…feed the bunny. Somehow in there she gets a few moments to write. Lucky enough to have a day job as a tech writer in her hometown of St. Louis, she is always grappling with words.
5 thoughts on “Keeping Pace”
A slice of life, well told. I only wish it was longer.
This piece uses flat, descriptive physical detail and ironic internal dialogue to allude to anguish and loss. Well done, except for a couple of details. The car make is Mercury Marquis. The second and third sentences of the penultimate paragraph don’t make sense, marring the implied drama. AGB
It’s a homogeneous little swatch of a story with no real substance. All I’m left with is the wonder of why the squinting at the driver if the “sun begins to lighten the waking sky” … and if the story took a sharp left to avoid the pollution while the jogger foolishly sucks in exhaust fumes.