Monday, 4 June 2012

The Runner - Part 1

Hey! I'm back! As it turns out, I can't leave you for any length of time without my brain imploding ;)

I wrote this story a few weeks ago, and while it isn't my best, I quite like it. I've always loved the idea of parkour (free-running) and I've always wanted to write a story about it, so...yeah. Enjoy.

Also, there is an amazing giveaway going on at Page Turner! Check it out!
The Runner - Part 1

“Jamie? Take the dog out will you?”

I looked up from chopping vegetables and frowned. “Do I have to?” I laid the knife down on the chopping board and pulled my soon-to-be-patented whining face. I had stuff to do tonight. Mainly internet and tumblr related stuff, stuff that had an upmost importance to my life as a teenage nerd.

“Yes, you have to. It’s not an option- Rudy hasn’t been walked all day. He’s getting restless”
I wrinkled my brow and my shoulder slumped. “Mum, I have things to do! I need!” I couldn’t help but lie, or keep the whine from my voice, the desperate pleas of a drowning man. I knew it was pointless, but I couldn’t help it. It was a defence mechanism, one I employed whenever I could. It worked sometimes, but Mum had her face on, the one that simply said, “DO IT.” in capital letters. “Mum...”

“Jamie. Go. You’re fifteen now, a big girl, and besides, you were the one that wanted Rudy in the first place, remember?”

“Yeah! When I was, like, nine!”

Rudy was our Irish Setter. He was beautiful and fast, with long flowing hair that glinted auburn in the light. He was affectionate, but, unfortunately, he only had two moods - hyper and hyper. It made him annoying to be around, so much so that I sometimes wished we had never got him from the shelter in the first place. I actually tried to take him back when I was eleven, and I would have gotten away with it too, was it not for those meddling kids who insisted that I ask my mum first.

I throw a glance at Mum, and sighed. Her face was set and her eyebrows were raised in mocking anticipation. Arguing would be futile.  “Fine.”

I grabbed Rudy’s lead from the hook and the door and turned to walk out into the hall.

“Oh, and Jamie? Be back in half an hour. Samantha’s coming over, and I need you to entertain Jason.”

“Jason?” I pulled a face. Jason was twelve and the most annoying boy I had ever seen in my life. And he always smelt of badly burnt cheese.

“Yes, Jason. Now, go, before Rudy leaves a surprise on the carpet.”

I sighed again and walked down the hall. It only took a few steps for Rudy to come bounding down the stairs, his tail wagging furiously behind him, and slip his head into the collar. I tightened it around his neck and gave the lead a short tug towards the door. Rudy barked and trotted forward. His tail was hitting against the back of my leg and his amber eyes were glinting, the eyes of a maniac.

I opened the door and made off into the street. Sunlight streamed down through the leaves, creating a dappled effect on the pavement. We lived near to the sea, and the smell of salt and fish was making my mouth water. It always reminded me of fish and chips, smothered with vinegar, and evening spent sitting on the beach, watching the waves slide in and out, in and out, a rhythmic crashing that was both relaxing and awe-inspiring.

I strolled down the street, Rudy by my side, and turned left, heading down to the beach. It was almost sunset and the air was cold and refreshing. There was a small but powerful wind kicking up at sea - I could hear the waves getting slowly higher, getting slowly louder as they hurtled towards the golden sand that lay just round the corner.

The street I was on was lined with trees, but in a few hundred metres, that gave way to a paraphernalia of ice-cream shops and galleries, chip shops and petit newsagents, and eventually, to the beach itself. The sand was golden in the setting sun, and the sea hiccupped grey waves and seaweed onto its shimmering platter. The beach void of life, bar a few dogwalkers and couples strolling up and down the pavement. Their eyes were turned to the sea, but they weren’t really seeing anything. They were thinking of things far away - did I leave the oven on? I wonder if Susie has gone to bed yet? God, I could kill a cup of coffee - and as a result, their eyes were glazed and empty. If eyes were the windows to the soul, then these people had none.

I gave Rudy’s lead a sharp tug, turning onto the slim pavement next to the wall that separated the beach from pedestrians and cars. To my right were the shops, their shutters down and their front doors locked. A crow circled above me, its black wings beating against the air, as though flying were the hardest thing in the world. I stopped and watched it for a moment, patting Rudy on the head. Its feathers, like inky satin, shone in the dimming light. It was free. It could do what it wanted, when it wanted - it wasn’t held in place by chains, shackles of social conformity and normality. It could fly, jump, run without the fear of being sneered at, of being laughed at. It didn’t have to be popular or skinny or arrogant to be normal. It could just be free.

I started Rudy walking again and it struck me that I didn’t even know what that word meant. ‘Normal’. What was normal? I was constantly being called strange, geeky, abnormal because I spent my time writing songs and browsing the internet rather than getting drunk and sneaking a shag behind the shed like so many of my classmates and peers. If everyone was abnormal, would ‘normal’ cease to exist? Or would it still be there, just with a different definition? I didn’t know. The only thing I knew was the yearning inside me, the wish to be truly free, to do what I wanted, to socialise with the people I wanted, to be free to scream and jump and skip without someone looking at me like I was a freak.

I was vaguely aware of the world growing darker, the pale sunlight morphing into a dark orange haze. The sea glimmered, white foam from the waves wiping the sand clean, a fresh slate.  It was beautiful, perfect.

A cloud of sand suddenly appeared on the beach, and a girl sprinted through it. She was about my height, with tangled brown hair that bounced on her shoulders in messy clumps. She was wearing a pair of combats and a simple grey t-shirt. She was barefoot and she was running as though she was being chased by the devil. Her feet barely seemed to touch the ground, instead skimming over it, sending clouds of dust into the air. She sprinted along the beach for a few more seconds and then leaped into the air, her small hands grasping the wall. She pulled herself up and crouching on the wall, looked at me. Her hair covered her face, but I could see the whites of her eyes. She was smiling. Her eyes held mine for a moment and then, with another burst of energy, she ran along the wall towards the lamppost. She wrapped her skinny arms around it, and pulled herself up, shimmying up the long black pole.

My mouth had formed into a round ‘o’ at this point, and even Rudy was watching her. The girl got to the top of the lamppost, placing her feet above the light bulb. She was steady and her grubby toes curled round the edge of light. I noticed a small scar on her foot, a line slicing across her middle toe, the exact scar that I had, but I dismissed it. The girl arched her back like a cat, leaning forward on her toes. Her head was turned to an ice-cream shop, directly across from her. The road was narrow, with only one lane for cars and the pavement adding width, and I saw the corners of the girl’s mouth turn up. My heart stopped in my chest. She was going to jump. I opened my mouth to shout to her, but it was too late. The muscles in her legs flexed and she hurtled into the air.

I raced forward, ready to catch her as she fell towards earth, but nothing happened. The girl simply flew through the air and, with a lupine grace landed on the roof of the ice-cream shop. Her arms hit the flat roof first, followed by her legs. She paused for a second and then got to her feet. She was unharmed, bar a few minute scratches on her arms and feet. She smiled again and ran.

I watched in awe as the girl ran over the rooftops, jumping and rolling as though it the most natural thing the world. She reached the end of the street in the blink of an eye and then jumping onto the roof of a house, she vanished from sight, her wild hair floating behind her as she scrabbled up the ashen slates. 


Emily said...

:0 this is really good. "If eyes were the windows to the soul, then these people had none." is my favourite line (I think) :)

Rose said...

i'm a bit speechless. you're right, in a way, that it's not your best story, but in another way i am completely dumbfounded by how good it is. does that make sense? my chest was fluttering at the end and i feel a little floaty, a little off-my-axis, if you know what i mean. it's brill. really, really brill.