Bitesize Tale: Cloud, Run, See

This is a short story which evolved from choosing three random words: CLOUD, RUN and SEE. We hope you enjoy it!

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***

Along the deserted beach we run, the frilled edges of the waves licking at the shore as we pound past. One solitary white cloud sits motionless against the startling blue of the sky, and I focus on it as my legs pump, as though if I kept running, I could reach it and take it in my hand.

I wouldn’t trade my morning beach runs for anything.  The ocean’s rhythm soothes me, quiets my buzzing mind, and the action of running lulls my body in its own moving meditation.

I start to slow, and Jeremy comes to a stop beside me. Staring across the sea, I am half-blinded by the diamond-glitter surface in the early sunlight.

I turn to Jeremy. His top and shorts are stained with sweat, but he is fit, strong, absurdly handsome.

I smile at him, but he doesn’t smile back. His eyes are guarded; he looks away from me.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, dread curdling my stomach.

“I have to go away,” he says to the sea.

“Why?” My heart is hammering in my ears, my mouth suddenly dry.

“I can’t tell you. I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement.”

“With whom?” He can’t just up and leave! We have a life, a home; routines and rhythms. Blinking back hot tears, I look at the cloud again. It’s drifting away, like a kite which has been set free.

“Lisa, I can’t say. But . . . .” He hesitates. “I’m restless. I never meant to stay here, you see. I never meant to fall in love. I’d always planned to continue travelling, but you . . . I stayed for you.”

“I do see.” I wasn’t exciting enough, or glamorous enough, to hold Jeremy K. Stein, the charismatic, world-renowned wildlife photographer.

Dully, I ask, “When do you leave?”

Still he avoids my gaze. “Tomorrow. From Heathrow.” He turns to me. “I won’t be coming back, Lisa.”

“I gathered that.” Crossing my arms, I lock my sadness away, so that he can’t see how much I am hurting.

He’s made his choice, and I decide, suddenly, to make my own. Turning away, I start to retrace my steps, creating distance, cutting the ties that I’d thought were unbreakable.

“Lisa!” he calls after me. “Lisa! Don’t let’s leave it like this! Surely you understand I have to follow my dreams?”

I do. I really do. But his dreams no longer include me.

I don’t look back. I can rearrange my life, too. Australia sounds good. My big sister has been pestering me to go and stay with her, and this seems like the perfect opportunity. All those beaches . . . I could be there within days.

There is nothing to keep me here. I am setting myself free, like that cloud, and will follow my heart. Suddenly I am running, wild and weightless, and filled with hope for my new future.

***

Words © Joanna Gawn

Image © noppasinw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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