Running Away – a short story

John Burcham / National Geographic Society / Universal Images Group

Matteo D., Deputy Editor

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It was obvious- it was really obvious. Maybe yes, yes. They knew. They knew it, but then again, did they? He noticed they noticed, but maybe it was just an impression. Killed by his doubt, the wait, everything, he went. He ran, more than went. He ran, ran, ran until he couldn’t hear himself sweat and slowly decay in fatigue after the third hour. He stopped and looked around- grass and maize. Everywhere- that’s what he had seen in the last month- maize and grass, grass and maize, green, yellow, brown. Interrupted every two or three miles by small farms with a small number of animals and huge crops. He had been chased by one or two dogs, but he outran them as he had outran every child in town many years ago- he’s sixty now, he can’t sprint anymore.

He looked behind his shoulder. Nothing, but there were the red wounds made by their knives, they had tried to cut deep into his dorsal muscles, but he managed to get out of the way fast enough to only suffer little pain. His feet hurt a lot, a real big lot. They were wounded, cut all over by thorns and thistles on the ground. Insects and mice as big as cats had chewed on his infected wounds during the night, spreading disease into his foot, which was now even darker than his mediterranean skin normally was. His legs were as thin as a needle, but they had been like this since his mid twenties and he had always asked himself how they could sustain his mass and be able to run so fast. He had never found the answer, he probably never will.

He sat and kept his feet on his heels to keep his black wounds from the red, hot sand. And then, for a small moment, for a second or two, he felt happy. He had wounds on his feet, his back hurt, his eyes struggled to see his hands, but for a moment, thinking of his mother, he forgot everything and for the first time in years, he felt happy.