Fiction: Run

I’m standing outside, huddled against the back door. The lip of the eaves and the direction of the wind are keeping me mostly dry from the rain—not that that will prevent my hair from becoming a wild, curly mess. I can’t be bothered to care.

I look out across our fenced-in yard, deck, patio. I see unfinished, rain-darkened deck boards; a complete absence of grass, with not even a single withered blade to be found; last week’s garbage that my dogs so kindly scattered about the yard. It’s technically spring, but not a single bush has anything resembling a leaf, and the trees towering over the neighbour’s yard still look skeletal. The sky is a cold, lifeless grey. It makes me wish for a thunderstorm.

I close my eyes, and feel a tug on my heartstrings—a cry, a tear that wants to escape. I don’t let it. But I can’t stifle the thought, the insistent voice that whispers I don’t belong here.

I decide in that moment that I would give anything—well, almost anything—for a touch of magic; for a little reassurance that even if I don’t belong here, I do belong somewhere. That there is a place for me, a place where I won’t always be the awkward outsider of every conversation, the reluctantly-included-but-never-accepted tagalong. I want to believe that somewhere, there are people who speak the same language that I do, who view the world through the same lens and see magic in every shadow.

Thinking about it only makes it worse, only reinforces the feeling of I don’t belong here. And then I turn, catching a glimpse of movement from the corner of my eye. I am startled, seeing a face that is like mine; a pair of pale, bright eyes gleaming with laughter in an angular face that is nearly overtaken by a mess of wild, tangled curls. She skips forward, lightly, unselfconsciously. She stands in front of me wearing dirt and cobwebs and rain. I realize that she is me.

She laughs, and reaches for me. I take her—my—hand, and she pulls me away. We run, tripping and slipping in the rain and the wind, laughing breathlessly. We run, leaving behind all the false smiles and distrustful gazes and cold shoulders. I am light, and for the first time, I feel like I belong somewhere. As if I am finally free to speak in my native tongue. We run.

We run, and though I know that I am quickly becoming hopelessly lost, I don’t stop. I don’t protest. The only sound that crosses my lips is another gust of breathless laughter as we tumble down a muddy hill. My clothing clings to me, wet and dirty, as I blink rainwater from my eyes and don’t let go of her—my—hand. I can’t let go. She’s taking me away.

We keep running, and at some point I realize that I’ve lost my shoes and it is wet ground rather than wet insoles that I feel against the bottoms of my feet. My lungs are burning and my skin is chilled and clammy from the rain, but I merely push myself harder, running beside her. I look at her—me—as we run, and try to find myself in her face. I can, but only just. She is an angular creature, all fierce joy and laughter and life. Wherever she came from—wherever or whatever made her like this— is where I want to be, so I hold onto her tightly as we run. We run, and run, and keep running. I close my eyes and trust her.

With a sigh, I open my eyes. I am still huddled against the back door, trying to keep dry, and however much I want it, my faery self is not here to take me away. To take me home.

So I turn away from the fantasy, and slip inside. My heart is heavy—there is a cry, a tear that tries to escape—but I push it down. There are dishes to be washed and dinner to be made, research to do and papers to write. A world to live in, even if I know I don’t belong there.

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

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