Walking Along the Edge
I wish I hadn’t completely deleted all the photos of us during the Santa Fe trip. You could see the pain on our faces. Something wasn’t working, a lot actually, and we were shuffling through it as best we knew how. Being the runner that she was, one morning, about 5 inches of snow on the ground from the night before, we headed out for a walk in the 25-degree dawn. I was going along mainly because I was terrified of being alone with myself.
We bundled up and crunched out into the crispy snow and golden hour rays of the rising sun. Our huge puffs of breath practically freezing into crystals. And we’re off up into empty streets of the snowed-in village.
After we wound through the city we found ourselves climbing up the side of the road to the ski area. Crunch crunch crunch on the shoulder of the road. It was silent in the snow. There were no cars. Just the sound of our feet in the dazzling white snow and my own heavy breathing as she pushed on ahead.
“You’ll either make it, or you’ll die.”
She would bolt up ahead until I could hardly see her. Then she would stand and wait. She was smiling when I got there, but it wasn’t a welcoming, happy smile. I was sucking air. And she’d take off again the second I reached her to billy goat up the narrow shoulder of the road. I was glad there were no cars whizzing by.
A thought struck me as I was racing after her, walking along a snowy narrow path with a steep 30-foot drop into a rocky ravine just a slippery step off the path. I was anxious. I started thinking about taking that little misstep on purpose. But, I knew it wouldn’t end it. We’d just have to call for an ambulance. And the look of pain and disdain on my girlfriend’s face.
Finally, I caught up with her for the fifth time and she started off to the right into a gated community in the foothills of Santa Fe. We had not brought water and the sun was beginning to cook our exposed skin. I was still smiling, but I was beginning to run out of energy and love.
The GPS on our phones wasn’t working, so we had no map to wind through the housing project back toward our hotel. I decided to slow down and save my breath. She was not tired or conscious of my withering enthusiasm. The scarf over my face hiding my pain and near-panic.
Read more Short-Short Stories from John.