My alarm went off at four thirty and I got up and went to the bathroom and leaned over the toilet and wretched and then grabbed my gear. I left the house and started running toward the state park.
It was cold out and I started sweating but I didn’t steam.
I hit the trails and started up as the sun was rising.
Eventually another runner came from behind, a black guy who could really run. We didn’t talk and he pulled ahead. I wasn’t going to catch him. I slowed a little. He got out of sight.
I stopped and switched out my bottles.
The sun was up and solid and people were starting to come for their midmorning hikes. I left them and found more prey and passed them too.
A group of female hikers. The one on the far left was short with a fat ass and black hair.
Middle left was slimmer and didn’t have a great ass.
Middle right had black hair and she had a pretty nice ass.
Far right was curvy. She had tanned skin and blonde hair.
I didn’t see their faces much as I passed. I could hear their conversation falter as I made the peak and then I slowed as I got out of their view. There was no one on this stretch. I tried to keep pushing.
I ran for a long time on my own.
I crested another hill and as it evened I saw a big group of hikers. They were all joking about something and they started setting up to take a selfie overlooking the hills and one of them said, “Okay okay let’s have one of us take the photo and all the rest of us be like …” she put on a big smile. She had medium-sized breasts. “Aaaye!”
They laughed and set up to take the picture.
Then I was on a long stretch without shade and I went Nagasaki. I started walking. Running slow. My head was pounding. I hit an incline and had to walk-hike. My breathing was haggard and I couldn’t regulate it.
I hissed and tried to run. I went a few steps and stopped again.
I hiked to a field of dry grass stretching down a hill. There were waves in it from the wind. The sky was clear with a hawk circling. I could see a rattlesnake in the grass.
I took a breath and started running.
I came down to a park with picnic tables and all. There were lots of people. I saw the black guy who’d beat me at the start. He’d come all this way.
I waited for my turn at the water fountain and filled my bottles, then eased into sitting on the grass and took out my dates and almonds and began stuffing them into my face.
There was a girl who was maybe a freshman maybe so anyway but she was laughing with her friends and I realized I was still dehydrated. I had more water and food.
There were two girls, one blonde and the other a brunette. The blonde had a prettier face by a little. They were listening to a guy. He was talking about his theory that thinking should be effortless.
I took out my bag of salt and poured it into my face and coughed and spluttered and drank half a bottle and winced. I coughed and went back to fill my bottles.
People kept talking around me. I checked my hat and pack for salt stains. Some girls were on their phones nearby.
I capped the bottles and put them in my pack. I put the pack on and it ate into my shoulders. I took a breath.
I passed the black guy, the runner. He’d probably been here for a long time and was relaxing as I hit the trails but he didn’t see me or he didn’t recognize me.
I ran into the afternoon and switched out my bottles. My shadow was long behind me, like something I was leaving behind but not quite.
I stopped on the side of the trail and went off into the bushes. I screwed open my bottle and pulled out and pissed into it until it was full. I held it up looking at the light through the liquid and took a breath. I took a sip and then drank it. I kept running.
It tasted like piss.
I started passing towns and some urban areas. I’d almost tied the loop.
People were out on early evening hikes. I passed them shakily.
I held steady against another runner for a minute or two and he pulled ahead.
He didn’t know how long I’d been out here. I’d been out here forever.
I tied the loop. As I was coasting down the hills there were two black guys and a black girl who was dressed too stylishly hiking up slowly. They had speakers with them. They were blasting.
I got down and through city streets and back home. I walked inside and into the backyard. I lay down with my wet cheek on the concrete and breathed. I left an imprint where I’d lain as I pushed myself up. And down. And up. I hadn’t spoken to anyone all day.