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Her bright eyes had fallen into shadow.
Rags that had once been clothes hung off a malnourished frame. He barely caught a glimpse of her before she darted off through the trees and was gone again. A few days later he saw her for the last time. She hadn’t seen him yet. When she did, she refused to acknowledge his presence as he stood over her pathetic body at rest on the ground. She leaned against the trunk of the tree staring at her dirty fingernails.
“What do you want?” her voice discordant, painful on the ears. He added it to the list of things he hated about her. She really was filthy, like a mendicant plucked from the streets of medieval Europe. Yet he saw through her like a pristine sheet of glass. She was worn and haggard, probably hadn’t slept in days… he could clearly see the fatigue outlined in every contour of her body. Had her hands not been clasped so tightly around her knees he was sure they would have been shaking.
“You’re wanted. I could take you in.”
“I’d run away. You couldn’t catch me.” She threw the words in his face. He almost flinched. Almost. She was right. Bingo. You win, always. You always, always win. She was always right. She was always faster, always one step ahead, ever a second faster to the finish line. This was way he hated her.
Hated her superiority, hated her excellence, hated her prodigal nature, hated her pride, hated her haughty attitude
Except now. Now she was losing, losing the race, the most important race of all. The only one in all actuality, that mattered. All because of a jealous player who didn’t want her to win. Someone he hated even more than her. So now, the best athlete on the field sat defeated in front of him. It seemed a great tribulation.
But even now, even now, if they tried to run together, she would inevitably beat him. And yet, he still found himself inevitably, abjectly, in love with only one he couldn’t catch.
“Do you have any idea how long I’ve been running?” she whispered. She looked up at him. For the first time in so long he’d almost forgotten the shade of those eyes. Deep gray eyes filled with helpless despair he’d expect to find near anywhere but there.
He shook his head.
She stood up.
“All I ever do is run.”
“I know. You’re very good at it.” He stated flatly. She flinched away from him, pain evident in her eyes. That’s right. Her turn to hurt. Her turn for pain. But in the recesses of his mind, black guilt pooled. “Yeah, you’re right. I am good at running. Say it. That’s all I will ever do. Run.” Stepping closer, leaning closer, he began to see how cruel fate could be.
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do now.” She leaned forward, and he closed his eyes.
She kissed him. The shortest kiss he ever had. As he opened his eyes she was gone, only catching a brief glimpse of her brown hair whipping around a bend as she ran.