Flash Fiction is not my forte. I struggle to get my ideas out in less than 500,000 words much less 500. The following is an account of something marvelous which happened during my run this morning. Hints of American Election subtext are totally intentional. As always feedback is appreciated as I will probably try to submit this somewhere soon. Enjoy.
This girl can. No. This woman can. This large and out of breath and middle-aged woman can. Can. Can. Can.
I match the rhythm of my running mantra to the beat of my new, electric orange trainers. ‘All running shoes should be orange,’ proclaimed the gentleman who sold them to me. But amidst the woodland trail of my local park, the neon orange reminds me of hunting jackets, prison fatigues and pumpkins.
I am not a pumpkin. Not a pumpkin. Pump. Kin. Pump. Kin. Pump. Kin.
A new mantra is born.
My pumpkin/hunter/prison trainers percuss happily as I dodge patches of damp leaves carpeting the path. The azure, autumn sky provides a perfect canvas for the gold-capped, russet-coated trees overhead. A perfect day to run.
Struggling up a steep hill, I pass a man jogging opposite, his pace made easy by the downward slope currently giving me difficulty. I look forward to this later leg of my run, though he doesn’t appear to be enjoying it. His feet fall swiftly, rather lazily, assisted by gravity, but his face looks grim, irritable, dissatisfied.
Perhaps he needs orange trainers, I giggle inwardly.
Just below the crest of the hill, silhouetted against the blue/gold/russet skyscape, stands an elderly woman; her white hair escaping beneath the blue hood of the puffy coat she wears to defend against October’s chill. In each hand, she grips a walking stick—not a pair of orthopaedic crutches, nor the smartly polished accessories I’ve seen older woman in town wield like status symbols. These are walking sticks of action forged from space-age metal, sporting rubber grips and wicked tips, purchased with Everest in mind.
She calls out to me and I shift aside my right headphone, the better to hear her.
‘Did you see that man running past?’ She nods down in the direction of the dissatisfied jogger.
‘Yes,’ I pant, looking back with her, though neither of us can see the man in question who is long gone.
‘He ran behind me so quietly for an age,’ explains the white-haired, blue-hooded woman of action. ‘Finally, he passed me so close. I said to him: “you’re lucky you didn’t get this in the shin”.’
She lifts then waves the right-hand Everest stick in a threatening manner. The space-age metal tip catches a spark of bright sun. I step back involuntarily.
‘You’re a dangerous woman,’ I chuckle.
‘I am!’ she agrees, matching my chuckle then raising it to a victorious cackle.
‘Good for you,’ I beam encouragingly.
‘We should all be,’ she proclaims with a mischievous grin.
‘Too right,’ I add perfunctorily, running in place. I’m enjoying our conversation, but I don’t want to lose my momentum so near the top.
My dangerous companion must be eager to enjoy her downhill lap, however. Deftly manoeuvring her sticks, she strides down the path with surprising speed and agility. I turn and run on.
I am a dangerous woman. Dangerous woman. Dangerous woman. I am dangerous.
A new running mantra is born.