February 10, 2010
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Ah, running when no one can see me can cover up so much insecurity. There’s no better time to run than on a cool autumn night. Seriously, would you like to run in the summer, when it feels like you’re about to die from a heat stroke? No, I didn’t think so.

It’s definitely not an option for me to run early in the afternoon. People will see me, and laugh. Running late at night ensures that everyone will be sleeping. Of course, tonight I had to leave at a different time.

I couldn’t go out later as I typically do because of my parents’ new regulations. They don’t want me getting lost and freaked out like I did twice before. It’s only eight o’clock, though, so my neighbors might not be sound asleep yet! The thought of that caused a shiver to go down my spine. No one is allowed to see me. Why can’t my parents understand that?

Many of my classmates say I’m too skinny, but have they actually compared me to the runway models these days? No, of course they haven’t. When I read Teen Vogue, the magazine I simply adore, I look at the girls modeling the latest trends. I look at them, and then think of my image in the mirror that morning. When I picture both the models and myself, I say “Wow, I’m so fat!”

Once I snap out of my thoughts, I realize the pace I’m running at is significantly slower than how fast I usually run. I hate this slow pace, but I simply don’t have the energy to go faster. In another moment I smile and picture him again, just like I always do.

“He” is a guy I had made up in my mind to scare myself and give me extra adrenaline. He’s about forty, extremely tall and has black bloodshot eyes, a black button down shirt, black pants and black work boots. I always picture him with a small dog to give people the impression of taking his dog for a nightly walk though I knew what this imaginary psycho really was. In my imagination he’d be standing under a street light directly facing me staring straight at me with those bloodshot eyes while the dog would just sniff around its owner’s feet. The scary thing about it, besides the fact that he stares straight at me is that he stands perfectly still. Deathly still. He pays no attention to the dog around him. Usually, I picture him at a far street light, then he appears at a closer one, and gets closer and closer.

I had told my mom about this method. After hearing it, she simply said “You’re crazy”, and laughed. I never told my friends, though. They’d only make fun of me. “Only Hannah would mess up the whole imaginary friend thing and make herself an imaginary killer”, they’d probably say, and then taunt me about it everyday. I only told my mom because I wanted to see if she thought it was a good idea, but after her reaction I didn’t tell anyone else.

Tonight I do the same as always. He start at the streetlight and comes closer and closer until I sprint, and almost run into a street sign.

“Okay Hannah, calm down. He’s not real. You’re running too fast tonight”. My mind says, trying to calm my body a little. It works for a brief second but then he appears in the streetlight right next to me and I scream and run faster. There’s something different about tonight. I’m usually good at calming myself down but tonight the vision frightens me too much. I decide in a panic to go straight home, and I only have one corner to turn. But as I turn the corner I hear a rustle in the bushes and “He” steps out, the dog at his side. His eyes are like bullets in my skin. He smiles a malicious grin and reached out to grab me.

“NO!” I scream, and turn around. Something is wrong. He has never seemed so real before and I never imagine him anywhere but by the streetlight. As I continue to run, tears form in my eyes, but those are not enough to blind me from this horrible thing I am seeing.

I pass a broken streetlight that was blinking on and off. When the light flickers on, he’s there. When the light flickers off, he’s gone. On, off. On, off. On, off. Each time the lamp clicked on, his smile grew bigger and bigger. I scream and run right by, him turning to face me as I pass.

I am three houses away, two houses, one house. I could almost feel him right behind me but I’m way too scared to check. I dart across the lawn.

ALMOST THERE! I cry silently with happiness. I finally got to the door with glee. I reach for the handle, safety being right on the other side, and turn it. It’s locked. My eyes grow with horror. The bushes rustle, I turn to look right into those horrible eyes one last time, and I am no more.

Two days later, the newspaper’s main article is: “Lost girl found. Apparently, the girl, named Hannah Bansch, had been on her nightly run three nights ago. She was obviously delusional, shouting about some man that was following her. Sadly, nothing could be helped. Hannah is the tenth girl to be sent to the mental hospital in our community this year. Though our best police and detective forces have looked into the story of the man, there is no evidence that he exists. Many nutritionists believe that this is the new effect caused by teen pressure to be thin. The girls run until they hallucinate to the extent that they go completely crazy. The fact that all ten girls saw the same thing is only a coincidence. There is nothing on our streets at night; our community is the safest one in our state. Those girls didn’t see anything; it was all in their imagination.”

Here’s a thing to remember: Don’t always believe what you read in newspapers, especially when the main article says that it is just a coincidence when ten girls all “hallucinate” the same exact thing.

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