Back On the Rock

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Target Practice

To the old man who lapped me in Emancipation Park this morning: Thank you.

I haven't been running much lately. I've been searching for motivation. You are just what I needed.

But let me explain: I ran last night, man. Hard. This morning was just a psych run. I had some stuff on my mind that I needed to sweat out. So when I ran up behind you, it wasn't a challenge. I was just trying to get by. You picked up the pace to prevent me from passing, and that was cool. For that first 50 metres, I thought about staying with you. My ego was at war with my tired legs. My ego lost. I had to hang back and let you go.

But when you pulled away and opened up a 200 metre gap - that hurt more than my knees. And lapping me? That was downright malicious.

But, as I said, I was there to work out my brain not my legs. So when you slowed down to walk and I buzzed by you - I swear that wasn't a challenge, my friend. That was the last lap of my 5K. I was just trying to make it count. So spanking me with that brutal sprint over the last 200 metres, that was just uncalled for. But I respect it.

I haven't been running much lately. But now, I will be. And I'll be looking out for you. And I will take you down.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Little Girl Lost

She knocks at the front door gingerly.

“Excuse me,” she says. Her face is round and soft. Eyes bright; skin smooth, flawless; blessed by youth and good genes.

“I’m lost.”

Our helper moves to the front door, but she shakes her head and looks right at me. “Can you help me?”

We are the same size, same height, same colouring. She looks like me, but younger. Barely seventeen. Up close, she smells like soap and rose water.

“I didn’t know it was apartments,” she says, looking at a worn piece of paper in her hand. “I’m looking for a place…” Her voice trails off and she lets go of my gaze, “…where there are girls like me.”

“What kind of place?” I ask her. I want her to put it into words, to have it be the sound of her own voice that turns her on her heels. There is a place nearby where there are girls who might have looked like her once; but now their faces are hard, their eyes are dull.

“What kind of place?” I ask her again.

She stares at her shoes. “A place with girls like me,” she sighs. “I supposed to get a job there.”

We stand there for a minute, her eyes flickering nervously from my face to her shoes, my brain stupidly scrolling through a catalog of useless questions.

“You know where it is?” she asks impatiently.

I think of a thousand things to tell her, but in my haste to get back to my work, my world, I am as complicit as the slack-jawed men who park their cars nearby. Our exchange is quick and cold.

“No, there’s no place like that here,” I tell her.

“Go home.”