Step by Step

A story about an early morning run through the city and the obstacles that break momentum.

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I run.

Before the sun rises and amongst the cold of the morning a street sweeper rolls past emanating hot waves of dust. A figure curled in a doorway ignores the pounding of my feet. The fog rolls off the river and blurs the edges of my vision.

I run.

Sweat creeps down my back. The warmth of my core reflects against my skin. Each step jars my sight and thumps in my mind.

I run.

My pace draws me closer to a man in fluorescent yellow. What he lacks in speed he counters with sheer might. His head is steady but his heels fall flat and the slapping of his soles echoes against the concrete.

I run.

The yellow man is close but I sense an opportunity to pass him. The path narrows ahead so I must be fast. I accelerate but so does he, powered perhaps by my increased rhythm.

I run.

Shoulder to shoulder we move. Steaming racehorse breath clouding against the chill. He is edging ahead; just a nose in it.

I run.

The pavement shrinks and I am forced into his slipstream. His energy spent, he slows. I am clipping at his heels.

I run.

The dust of the road cleaner is still in my nostrils; a sickening aftershock of asphalt and debris. A sneeze is growing.

I run.

The yellow man is fading. His jacket does not reflect his endurance; instead it is a warning of the hazard ahead. We decelerate and my momentum edges away.

He stops.

I stop.

I sneeze.

The sun is rising. The yellow man turns and notices me. He takes out his headphones.

“Sorry,” he says.

He steps aside. Finally my road is clear. Swept free of obstacles. I smile at him as I pass.

I run.

Originally from Thanet, J A DuMairier enjoys writing and long walks in the country.

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