She runs

She runs. More than a shuffle. Less than a sprint.
Steady. That’s what her father would have called her pace.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” he used to say, always with the imputation that she was doing things wrong. Rushing.
It became the quest of her childhood, to steadily win his affection.

She runs. Away from her apathetic, underachieving children. Away from her husband with his grins ground out of him.
Her father used to smile at her sister. Chuckle even. There was never any question as to his favourite daughter.
He preferred the hurdler, not the middle-distance runner.
Steady didn’t seem to count.

She runs. Past houses and gardens. Along the bland streets where she lives.
Past friendships that faltered. Teachers who didn’t bring out the best in her kids. Injustices snagged on picket fences.
One foot, then the other, her breathing a thumping mantra repelling all but fleeting thoughts. Must write a letter to Council about those people that leave their bins across the path.

She runs. Pushes through darkness and pain, anger powering each stride.
Running has changed her body, slashed two dress sizes from her hips, carved away her chest. It’s put steel in her glutes and calves, required cortisone in one traitorous knee.
She presses on, hungry for forward movement. For leaving things behind.

She ran. Submitted an entry form online. Committed herself to a date, seeking run rather than fun.
She arrived early. Held her space at the start line, twitchy and impatient. Survived the melee at the gun, striding out to find her own space.
She maintained a steady pace for 15km then surged, letting her furies drive her home.
Broke the ribbon, depleted but triumphant. Not second best.

Celestial

Photograph of a bright ‘supermoon’ looks a little like a spaceship swooping

The angels arrived like stealth bombers, sweeping each suburb, each street, each home.

#Rapture trended immediately on Twitter, as fundamentalists claimed their moment of triumph had arrived.

All Theo knew for sure was that these angels had nothing in common with those he’d learned about in Sunday School. He heard the screams, saw flames flare and knew there’d be no inner calm, no glow of divine love accompanying visitation.

A practical man, he didn’t see any point cowering beneath a blanket or bracing himself in a doorway. This wasn’t an earthquake or wildfire. It was an Act of God no insurance company ever envisaged.

So he strolled, barefoot, out into the summer night. Stepped off the gutter and onto the warm bitumen. Wriggled his toes on the rough surface. Watched and waited.

In the instant his angel swooped, he understood. They weren’t messengers. They were auditors, celestial census collectors. And pest controllers.

The angel scanned his soul and it was like immersion in an arctic sea. He was aware his ledger, his personal balance of good versus evil, was under assessment.

Then he was kneeling on the road, not in praise but simple gratitude. He stood, slowly. Inhaled and savored the air entering his lungs. His skin tingled. He wondered who else had survived.

He knew the angels would be back in a few hundred years. And that no one would remember they’d been before.