Thoughts During Running 2

by Stefani Nellen

Absinthe doesn’t taste as light as the scent of bark and pine needles breaking from my trail, and the memory of cigarette smoke is covered by cold mist rising from the iced up puddles under the bridge, and as distant as the traffic thundering up ahead, on the other side of the rusty steel guts. A sleepless tongue coated in the day’s first coffee doesn’t taste as sharp as cereal in yoghurt, and sweat from my unwashed face.

In other words, you are far away, back East, where your day is halfway over. Everything is smaller back home. You pressed toothpaste from a red tube no longer than your thumb, drink espresso from a ping pong ball sized cup, dab perfume from a minuscule flacon, scrape Irish butter on a single slice of Finn Crisp. Your kitchen is too small for a chair, so you breakfast sitting on the windowsill, looking over the huddling brick roofs of Heidelberg while I snore in America.

In the morning you meet with foreigners in your office in the city. The seams of your blazer cut a tunnel through which you swish, your red hair shining a warning. In the afternoon, your nails are translucent and strong like fish scales as you put the keys on the bistro table back home, where they spread like metal puzzle pieces. You sit down on a red rubber ball. You calculate and type. Your life would fit in a jewel box. And there is the grey, fuzzy string of our communications, rolled up next to the other, old but valuable treasures.

Old friends from school, we don’t cut the string, even though, at times, it floats like a moat of dust, and at others clings like a spider web. I turn around at the freshly painted hydrant. Pillows of weight are tacked to my hips. I trot home, towards our kitchen, where my husband prepares the baby for feeding and my arrival. I spread my sails and forge ahead, a hook in my stomach.

Who would have thought? We sat in street caf├ęs. You used to lean towards me so your chair tilted, your seashell cheek close to mine, the summer air sneaking between our hair to caress our necks, and we’d single them out, the slow runners, the ones with a cow’s stare. Where are they going?, we wondered. Back home, I knew. Far away, you said.

Stefani Nellen lived in Heidelberg and Pittsburgh, and is currently based in the Netherlands. She had flash fiction published in Hobart, FRiGG, Smokelong Quarterly (twice), Quarter After Eight, and others. Longer stories appeared in Inkwell, Web Conjcuntions, and Best of the Web, and science fiction stories can be found in Apex Digest and Cosmos. She has a degree in psychology and is a decent recreational runner.

What would your ‘thoughts during writing flash” look like? Don’t think! Don’t even breathe! Just sit still and record what you see.

This entry was posted in Nellen, Stefani and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.