She runs as if her life depends on it. Feet pounding the solid pavement, sure footed, a familiar refrain. She has done this before. Many times. Except...what is different about this run is the ending. The finish. But, that comes later. For now, she can only face this moment. When the only thing, the only thing she can focus on is her breath.
She is breathing. For that she is grateful. And for other things. That her feet can still fly under her. That her arms move by her side in tandem, a rhythm as familiar as her heartbeat. And then she notices the quiet. No sound. A silence pierced only by her ragged breathing...in and out. Something is off. What is it?
Her lungs are on fire and her legs have grown heavy. Arms flailing at her sides...like a swan with broken wings. She pushes ahead through the mist. It's just around the bend. Just...there. She sees it now. The homestretch. The grand finale. Her body hurtles across the finish. It is then, bent over, trying to catch her breath that she notices what is different this time. There is no one here. No one to greet her. To throw a warm towel across her back or fling their arm across her tired shoulders. No witness to her pain. She sinks to the ground, welcoming the sharp rocks biting into her knees. She huddles there and begins to rock back and forth. Yes, she is alone. Utterly alone.
Hestia's Kitchen - painting by Chuck Gumpert.