I sit down next to my remaining shoe in the sunny spot on the
driveway. My nylon workout pants snag on the concrete. Doesn't
matter. I can't very well go for my run now anyway. Might as well
just sit. I stretch my legs out in front of me; look at my
socks, the pink stripes across the arches of my feet, and notice
some dandelion growing through a seam in the pavement.
Some dandelion is always growing in a seam in the pavement.
I try to think about what to do. Call John? Bother him again
after my melt down last night? No. I needed to handle this alone. I
used to be able to handle everything alone.
I pull out the leaves of the dandelion but can't get at the root.
Who would do such a thing? Why would someone steal just one shoe?
Leave me just the one?
I'd put my shoes in the driveway this morning. They were muddy
from the run the day before. I'd dumped them in the washing machine
first thing that morning, as soon as John got off to work, then I
went about my chores. Ran the sweeper. Windexed everything. When the
wash was finished, I took the shoes out of the washer and put them
in the sunny spot on the driveway. Putting them through the dryer
ruins the shocks.
Since the move, I'd made it a point to run in my shoes five miles
each day. Sometimes more, but never less. I hadn't found a job yet,
so I'd made it my job to be fit. Four months later it was more than
just my hips wearing thin.
"You'll regret giving up this work," the office girls had told me
when I announced my plan to quit that job and move in with John,
"it's going to be more difficult than you think finding something in
the south hills. You'll regret giving up this life to follow that
man." But at the time, it didn't feel like I was giving anything up.
I believed in our love and our life together.
Four months later though, after I'd packed up my sweaters and cat
and city life, all I'd found out was the layout of the housing plan,
the subdivision of Indian names: the course of each road, the
distance of each side street.
To the end of Seneca Road is 3/10s a mile. Down Comanche 1.2.
Arapahoe is one tenth of a mile. Arapahoe is good for a sprint,
because it's level and short. I know the neighborhood terrain better
than John because of these runs, though he's lived here longer.
The first few weeks in John's house were a joy; falling asleep at
night holding hands, waking each morning to coffee. But things had
started to change. Being alone all day, it was getting to me. I
missed the office girls and our lunches and talks. Around 5 I'd
start looking for John, waiting for him to come home, like a puppy.
If the supper I made got cold because of his late meeting, I'd get
frustrated. He'd get home tired, and when I told him over dinner
about my routes his eyes would glaze.
Usually I would run on the street, start my run on Comanche,
would imagine myself racing with Indian braves and squaw for
company. Imagined they looked like the Indians in coloring books,
the ones from gradeschool, that showed them happily partaking in
Thanksgiving with leather dresses, feathers, and loin cloth. I
imagined Pocahontas running next to me and imagined that we laugh
and chat about the difficulties of fitting in with our love's world.
Tried not to think about the movie Poltergeist, or the
irony of running the path of tribes decimated by future
suburbanites. Told myself that everything isn't always a life
Yesterday the rain had come down hard on me, and it came out of
nowhere with thunder and lightning and cold.
So I cut my run short for the first time in months, and went
through the yards. I needed to make sure John's computer was
unplugged before the power went out. The power was always going out
during these summer storms, and I was using his machine for my work.
The work of finding work. Resumes. Portfolio pieces. Contacts.
When I got home I quick kicked off my muddy shoes and raced
toward the steps with rain water and sweat dripping. I tasted it in
my mouth. The house was so quiet.
John wouldn't be home for hours.
I started up the basement steps, two at a time and tripped in my
wet socks when the lights blinked off. I hadn't made it in time.
I sat down on the basement steps and brushed cold wet hair off of
my face. Took five deep breaths then walked the rest of the way to
the computer room. Pulled out the plug and hoped no data was
Prayed that when the power flicked on my freshly-revised resume
would be intact, ready to be printed and mailed out at any time.
I didn't know what to do then, so I squeezed some tidy bowl into
the three bathrooms, sat on the sofa and fought the urge to take a
nap. I called John at the office, his secretary answered. She asked
how I was doing and then took the message. It's the loneliness that
makes you tired.
When John got home, the house was still in the dark. I didn't
know how to make dinner, and when he walked in he looked tired, but
still I couldn't make myself not cry.
"What's wrong?" he said sitting next to me on the sofa, pressing
his nose to my cheek.
"It's not working," I said. "It's not working at all."
He smiled a little, kissed my head, "It's all going to be fine,"
he said and ordered us a pizza.
John seemed to always be taking care of things these days and I
fell asleep soothed but mourning my independence.
I pull more at the dandelion roots. Why would someone take one
I look at the jolly red and white geraniums along the side of the
driveway. They either don't know or aren't talking. I turn my head
first up the street then down. Nothing.
What could I do for my five miles? Hop? I couldn't fail at even
Was someone mad that I ran through their yard? Mad that I didn't
know how to prune my holly tree, or that I hadn't pulled my trash
cans in early enough on trash day. I still had so much to learn
about this life. Was it the Indian spirits? Had I angered the ghost
of Running Bear?
I put my hand inside my right shoe, feel its wetness from the
laundry, and stand up. It doesn't matter who had done it. What
mattered is that I handle it. I breathe a warrior's breath of
"Looking for this?" John says appearing from the side of the
house, wearing sweatpants, ballcap and holding my shoe.
"What?" I say and jump up.
"I thought I'd take the day off," he said, "and run with you."
What a relief I felt. I put my arms around him.
"But why did you play that trick?"
"I thought maybe you could stand to lighten up, thought I'd
remind you of the troubles we'd solve together."
We rub our noses together then we lace up our shoes. We take off
down Comanche and I feet Pocahontas smiling at us.
Julia LaSalle's work has appeared in DrunkenBoat.com,
and she was a finalist in Glimmer Train's Fall 2005 Short
Story Contest for New Writers.