Running Solo

His eyes were the same milky turquoise as the mountain lakes fed by glacial melt. The same icy waters in which she’d relish a swim, sweaty after a hot climb during one of their long runs in the high Sierras, that she’d watched him do gainer flips into. Contrasting against the backdrop of treeless granite formations from which he had jumped, the brilliant blue from the glacial sediment had made the color of the water even more stunning.

The first time Ann had truly taken notice of the brilliant color of his eyes, they were sitting on the couch in her living room together.  She was on his lap facing him, straddling him.  His hands resting on either side of her waist felt warm through her thin blouse.  He gently brushed a ringlet of hair from her face and looked up at her intensely. She had noticed them then, right before he’d kissed her and told her he loved her.  But his eyes, just like that majestic, sunny day in the mountains and that day in her living room that he had first told her he loved her, were intangible images in a collection of unreliable memories.

Today she was unaccompanied, running solo.  Ann sat, perched on a boulder in the sun eating an orange that was the same color as the California poppies that were blooming in clusters between some of the rocks.  There were several condors that she had been watching for a while, silently circling hundreds of feet above her and flying into the currents of wind with their massive wingspans. She had once read about a tradition called a sky burial that is practiced in some regions of the world to honor the dead, in which human remains are left as an offering for the condors on a mountain top.

When Ann was done with her snack, she put her pack back on and began running again, falling into her run-all-day pace on the trail.  She allowed her focus to return to the rhythmic movement of her body and the trail in front of her where her foot would fall next. While she was running, her thoughts withdrew from ruminations about the past or uncertainties about the future and returned to the present, to the dirt and the birds and the abrupt gusts of wind that were a cold slap on her face, drawing fluid from her eyes and nose. All that she knew was the joy of her body moving through space, the revelry of the natural surroundings, and the sensation of her senses.