Is it safe to run in the woods? I ask.
Oh yes, very safe around here. It’s a lovely town you’ll see, everyone is so friendly, so polite.
I therefore venture into the woods. I am worried at first. A young woman in the embrace of tall trees, all on her own. You hear stories, your mind races, followed by your panicked legs. Nothing like a bit of fear to make you sprint.
But I soon stop worrying. They were right, everyone is so friendly, so polite. And I learn to appreciate the cool shade, the musty smells, the speckled sunshine on the ground. I greet dog walkers and they greet me back. Little children wave and shout hellos. Other runners nod their heads at me. Elderly people let me through. Yes, everyone is so friendly, so polite.
While I’m out running one cold morning, feet landing rhythmically on crunchy leaves, puffing out a white little cloud every fourth step, I’m thinking how my brain is in complete tune with my body, how my body is in complete symbiosis with nature, how I have become running. I overtake other runners, effortlessly accelerating, still finding oxygen to greet them all, as polite as all of the polite people of this small town.
Then it happens.
I slip on a small patch of ice and I sprawl onto the ground. A split second during which my brain can’t comprehend the event. One second you’re up and running, the next you’re flat on the ground, gasping for air.
It reminds me of that time I got swallowed whole and spat out by a large wave, my body rigged by the surf, then an ungracious entanglement of limbs on the hot sand.
I blink my confusion off. A small squirrel is climbing the large tree above, stopping for a moment to look down on me.
I need to gather myself up but I can’t. There is pain spreading from the middle of my back to the rest of my body. I order my toes to wriggle but they stay stubbornly still. I can’t move my head. I can blink. I can feel myself blink. I try to shout for help; my mouth opens but no sound comes out. Like a cat on the other side of a window.
I hear quick footsteps approaching. Thank god. A runner.
He looks at me and nods politely before going around me and carrying on. Another one goes by at full speed. “Morning!” he shouts over the loud music in his earphones, before rabbit-jumping over my immobile legs. A nice family walks by. The little girl waves and the toddler says “e-do”, reaping immediate praise from his parents. “You said ‘hello’ Alfie, there’s a good boy.” And they smile at me and walk by.
I close my eyes. Maybe if I look dead someone might help?
Something cold and moist rubs against my cheek. A large Labrador is giving me the once over, half excited, half concerned about his discovery. He whimpers a bit before starting to lick my face.
At the sound of his name he abandons me for his mistress, a delightful old lady, wearing an incongruous mix of Sunday best and wellingtons. She walks to me.
“I’m sorry dear, about the dog. He’s only being affectionate. Have a good day now!” And with that she’s off, Teddy by her side.
Yes, everyone is so friendly, so polite.
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