A desperate run in the middle of the night
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I run. My bare feet slapping at the street clumsily as I go.
Pat, pat, pat.
My nightgown blows around me in the cold mid-night air. I can smell the night though my cold nose. The bitter bite of it reaching roots of lungs I haven't used for months.
I run past the sleeping houses of my street. Not even a restless pet to watch me on my mad course. There is no need to look behind me. I’m not being persuaded.
Pat, pat, pat.
I need to go faster. My muscles vibrate, screaming at me to run faster. I obey immediately. Moving my limbs as fast as I can. Screwing up my face. Clenching my fists. I run fast. I will fall hard if I miss just one beat. My airways feel pinched as my body begs for the oxygen it’s not fast enough to get. Feet numb from the constant pounding on the black street.
All I can feel is the blood whooshing in my ears to the beat of my heart. Had I been holding my breath? I bluster out my breath with a groan as I cease my mighty sprint. I continue groaning when I exhale after desperate stolen breaths. The sound I make reminding me of a desperate cry of an injured animal. I keep this up knowing that this is the closest I have been to an actual emotion for years. I hope that this noise is an indication that my old self is somewhere waiting to break though ready to cry again.
When I’m brave enough.
I stand straight again and regain my normal breathing. The street ahead is a gentle decline. I reach my arms out, close my eyes and lean forward. Falling forward, saving myself with every step. I pound down the hill.
Pat. Pat. Pat.
The street levels again. I know where I am. I stop. I open my eyes. I’m in the middle of the t-intersection at the end of my street. Silent traffic lights signal non-existent cars above me. If I were in my car on the same quiet night, I would have stopped on the red light instead of running through it, as I have now. Stopped, long past forgotten the safety reasons for following the rules. Just instinctively obeying lest justice come for me. I stand there for I don't know how long. Watching the lights change. I don’t think. I don't consider where I am, or which way I will go now. Left or right. I always knew this was the end of my run. It always has been.
Ever since the first night, a year ago, when I unknowingly started this desperate routine. That night I had felt crazed. I had lay awake for hours next to you. Growing anxious of the thoughts struggling to break through my denial. Suddenly, from all my suppressing effort, I could no longer breathe. I clutched at my throat as I tried for air.
I couldn't breathe!
This realization shook me to my core; I haven’t taken I breath for 5 years at least.
Terrified. Without plan or foresight. All I could do was run. I ran into the night as I have tonight, a need to escape propelling me. But most of all, I need to breathe. I fled knowing only that I couldn't go back. I ran as burning tears ran across my face. Not from emotion but from pain. Pain in my lungs for suffocating. Suffocating in the poisonous silence of our five-year marriage. I ran that night only to find myself here again, at this set of lights, at the T-intersection, at the end of our street. I couldn’t go any further. Not because of exhaustion. I could have run all night fueled by the harsh truth of my epiphany. I stopped because I couldn’t, just couldn’t, make a simple decision on my own. To go left or right. It's not that I had no-where to go. It's that I was over-whelmed by such a trifle indecision. I knew then that you had suffocated out of me, the strength to face even a traffic light, on my own. I stood there that night, having achieved nothing, having escaped no one. Finally, I noticed my heart thumping under my burning lungs. And for one second if felt like I had breathed properly. I whisper of life lifted through me. From then on, when I needed to breath, when the silence at home was too much. I would run the street in the dead of night. Just to take one breath.
Alas once the breath has been taken, the moment is lost. I know what happens next. My body feels weak and shaky as the rebellion in it has run dry. I walk to the foot path I ignored earlier. I walk dutifully back home. I don't look around me. I don't look up at the clear stared sky. I don’t see the darkened windows of my neighborhood. I look unseeing at the path laid out in front of me, trying to turn off my thoughts once again. Numbing myself like my nose tip. I turn when I get to the house our place. I give myself only one second to look up at the house before silently entering. Immediately after I close the front door behind me, I feel the poisonous stagnant silence close around me. I walk past the living room where I watch my cooking shows alone every evening. I walk past the kitchen where I prepare your meals. Past the dining room where we routinely pretend to be a couple, simply eating our evening meal. If I was lucky, we stay silent while we slowly emptied our plates. The silence is better than your accusations. your threats. Your mind games. My hopeless attempt to quell your rage, is to give my body over to you. Which you take greedily. But you cannot have my soul. I don’t even remember the last time I dared to ask myself how we ended up like this.
I walk past the door to your office where you hide from me at night. You might as well have forbidden me entry, for all the acid glares I get if I even enter without the vacuum in toe.
I reach the end of the hall. Already facing left to our bedroom where I left you sleeping. I know what will happen next. If I resume my rightful place next to you. In 5 hours, your alarm will go off. You won't look over at me. You won’t notice my windswept hair. You will busy yourself at the wardrobe grabbing your uniform for the day. You won't look back at the bed. You won’t notice the blackened feet poking out of the tangled mound of sheets that is your sleeping wife. You will leave for work. You won’t kiss me on my forehead before you go. You won’t notice the salty taste of my skin from the sweat of my night escape from you. I know this because I have watched you several times, waiting for you to notice me staring at you. But it never happens.
I also know that if I go right, to the spare room. The room where no one is invited to stay in. The room I dare not escape to lest I face the justice that would come for me. Breaking your rules of marriage that I must obey. I know that if I were to sleep alone tonight for the first time in 5 years in our pitiful spare room. I know that, that silent gesture would speak so loudly, that it would set in motion the beginning of our end. What a risk?
Just as I start to move right. To you snoring. To continue my suffocation. I feel the first kick of our first child. Without another moment hesitation. I turn around. I go left tonight.