Keep Running | Teen Ink

Keep Running

September 10, 2010
By Shelly-T GOLD, Romeoville, Illinois
Shelly-T GOLD, Romeoville, Illinois
13 articles 0 photos 71 comments

I run. Every time life gives me lemons, I smash them under my feet. I don’t have to face defeat, pain, mortification, or any emotions at all while I am running. I run in the forest, the trees a cape shrouding me from all eyes. Looking at me. Taunting me; that I am a coward. I am not.

Pick up the pace, pick up the pace. Faster. I hear me feet pound on the packed dirt below me. My breaths are rhythmic, my steps are in pattern, and know what is going to happen next. No one can change my plans. And there is comfort in that. I’m in control now. My mind focuses on the path ahead, and only ahead. Not the troubles I left behind. Not all of the people behind me. My strides lengthen as I flow down a hill. Then, I clatter over a bridge. Every time I run, I say to myself, This time, I’m not going back. But I always do. I always end up walking back into that place, even though it hurts me. Not this time. Not this time. I plunge into a sprint, to escape the thoughts. To escape life. I would rather run forever than go back there.

Relax, they’re gone. You’re alone. Good. I slow back into rhythm. In pace. In check. This is perfect. Night falls down around me like a veil, and the darkness squeezes me. The air is cool. My hair flies behind me like a cape. The night is young, and I’ll run all night before I go home. Home. Not home. Not my home.

As I run along, the thoughts trail me, haunt me. They are ghosts that curl in the wind like smoke and float up beside me from behind me when I least expect it. A thought creeps up to me and whispers, Your parents hate each other. I ignore it; pretend I didn’t hear it tell me that. Persuade myself not to believe it. Run faster. One floats up to me like fog and immerses me: You don’t have any friends. It’s true. No one knows me, or cares about me. I don’t need anyone to care about me. I sprint away down a fork in the road and run through the thick silence of the dark forest. I don’t need to see. I know the path better than I know myself. I wish I could live here. Stay here forever. This is my home. Not the small ramshackle apartment garbed in decrepit furniture retrieved from behind dumpsters. When I am alone, my thoughts haunt me. I need to get away from them. I need to run. When my parents are home, I am tormented by the incessant fighting, bickering, and disagreeing. They don’t even pay attention to me anymore. I have fallen away into my own world; I have been drowned in my thoughts constantly spewing from the bottomless abyss at the back of my mind. They smother me, strangle me, push me down and yell at me. I try to fight them away. It is useless. I am subdued.

Don’t slow down. Don’t stop. Don’t turn around. I awaken to my surroundings. The trees have faded to the background. The constant scritch-scritch of my feet on the dirt has blended into the hum of the chirping crickets. The sky is like spilled ink dappled in sparkling stars. The moon is like a newly minted silver coin haphazardly dropped into the sky. How many miles have I run? Five? Ten? I don’t count. I am cold, even though I am sweating. The wind’s icy fingers curl around my heart as if it is holding a precious stone.

Fight the cold. Run faster. I sprint down the bend. A thought sneaks up at me. You’re a failure. It is a dagger piercing me. I have no goals. No life. No future. I fight it off and accelerate. It catches up with me. No one cares about you. I wrestle it off my back and speed down the trail. It claws at me and mutilates me. Stupid! Ugly! Poor! Inferior! I lose the battle and fall face down in the dirt, a sliver of moonlight glinting off the blood running from my hands. I lay there for some time: hours—a second. Then I get up and run. I don’t care about the time. Time has become irreverent to me. Sleep has become an unnecessary comfort. My mind takes another stab. Your life is ruined. I withstand against its sharp edge and block against its blows. It is true. I am nothing. My life is a smoldering wreck of lies, deceit, pain, and suffering.

I am growing weak. The night is morphing into morning. I keep on going. I won’t stop. A final fight before my thoughts retreat for the night: You’re a coward! Face up to us! I run away. I have no chance. Each punch my thoughts pack weakens me, hurts me. I run through the trees and find myself beside a highway. The cars streak past me, don’t notice me. They don’t care if I die. I walk down the highway, and jog up a bridge. I see the lights of the city beyond it and walk up to the edge. I put my hands on the cold steel rail and blow out a weary breath. My thoughts flow out of my mind in one tainted gasp. I can see them as a cloud in front of me, a purple fog. I scan the highway below me, the buildings that line the horizon. The scene is bordered with the trees of the forest that I have been running through. I see the roads tracing through the maze of structures, and in that labyrinth of civilization I pick out my apartment building.

I didn’t leave this time. Maybe tomorrow I can be free. That is my only hope. To be free from my thoughts, my emotions. To leave. I listen to the rushing cars shaking the bridge, and feel my hands freeze on the rail. Maybe I should hitch a ride and get out of here. I pull them off and put the icy hands against my cheeks. My life is useless, I think, turning my eyes up to the sky.

Too bad I can’t run up there. I am trapped down here. I look back down at the city. Where I am. It is time to go back. I can feel the ghosts creeping back into my mind.

Keep running

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