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The brisk, fall morning air stings my cheeks, turning them various shades of pink and red, and I breath deep enjoying the way the air feels as it runs down my throat and nose into my lungs. My feet pound evenly on the asphalt and the sound sooths me. Moments like these are the ones that I cherise. Before the dawn, when I'm alone on these roads, when I feel as though I'm the only person in the world. These are the times when I have time to sort out my feelings, before the hectic events of the day begin. They call me the anti-jock, but running is my passion. Jogging alone in the early morning, competing against no one but myself and the wind, gives me a sense of power that no one can take away. My running shoes are worn and muddy and my torn shirt and baggy running shorts may not be the height of fashion but they are mine. They hold memories of things that no one else will ever know. Like the morning I went jogging and took out my frustration and anger on the asphalt, pounding along, trying to beat it. That was the morning I found out that I was moving. Running was what gave me a sense of security that day. Because I knew that no matter where I went, there would always be asphalt to run on. They hold the memory of the morning that I jogged along the streets, feeling happy and satisfied for the first time in a month. That was the morning after my first day at Cascadia. They also hold the memory of the morning I stained the asphalt with my tears, running blindly, unsure of where I was going, knowing only that no matter where I ended up, they would never be there for me ever again when I returned. That was the morning after I found out that Megan and Sebestien were gone. Today, as my breathing becomes more deep and I suck air into my lungs, I implant new memories into them. Bitter sweet memories. He smiled at me today and I felt my heart melt inside. It does that everytime he smiles, everytime he glances my way. But they will also hold the pain I'm feeling at leaving my friends. For today is the day that I will return to Cascadia after my early morning jog for the very last time.
For today is the day that I will return to Cascadia after my early morning jog for the very last time. A part of me, the part that implants sadness into the shirt, doesn't want to leave them behind. But another part of me, the part that implants happiness, is excited to finally get away from this school, where I certainly do not belong, and follow my dreams. My feet slow for an instant, as I hesitant not wanting to return so fast. I need more time and so I turn down a dirt road, feeling the land change beneath my feet. I'll take the long way today. I need more time, as I am confused. While I am sad to leave my friends, an even bigger part of me is sad to leave him. It's a different kind of sadness. One that tears a new tear in my heart everytime I think about it. One that turns my insides black at the very thought of never getting to see his face again. And a part of myself hates myself for feeling that way. My feet land lightly and for a moment I feel as though I could fly. A long time ago, as I ran down a road very much like this, and yet so different, I had promised myself that my heart would stay solely mine forever. But today, as I run down this road, under the thick, protecting canope of trees, I know that I have broken my promise to myself. I hate people eho break promises. Which is why I hate myself for loving him. I hate love. If people were meant to love, then why is there such a thing as divorce? As cheating? As the break-up? Why does God continue to torture us this way? If there is supposed to be one person out there for everyone, then why do some people go there whole lives without finding there "one"? And why did I find my "one" in a person who does not love me back? In the person who is so not right for me, that he is perfect for me? I clear my head and focus on the sound of my feet for a moment. Sometimes, whenI jog I find myself having to stop and do that for a moment, to calm the thoughts racing through my head. I wish, often, that I were not so deep. Which may sound conceited, but it's true. I see things differently than other people. I find myself thinking so deeply and so fast, speeding from one thought to another in a matter of seconds, that I sometimes wonder if one of these days, my thoughts will simply drive me crazy. Most 15 year-olds are focussed on boy bands and make-up and whether or not they're gonna get to second base tonight. But me, I find myself wondering about my "one". And so this leads me back to my previous dilemma. Which thanks to my strange train of thoughts, has almost been forgotten. Why must I feel this way for leaving him? Why do I feel as though I am betraying him? Is it because he has lost so much already that I don't want him to lose me? But he won't lose me. Unless he wants to. Does he want to? Perhaps he does. Once again, as happens many times on these early morning jogs of mine, I find myself in a bind. You see, when I am alone, with no one around to judge me, I find that I begin to judge me. And I am not easy on me either. I wonder, if he really does want me gone. It is entirely possible that he simply tolerates me because I am, afterall, a daughter of the faculty. He is so completely opposite from me that I know he couldn't possibly love me. He is too young to love. Isn't he? Even if he isn't, I am not the girl he would ever choose to love. I am too short, too red-headed and too much of a non-tennis playing, non-blond, non-tall, non-beautiful girl for him. Face the facts, I tell myself. When you're gone, you will have made no impact on any of them. You entered their lives, briefly for a moment and exited just as quickly and quietly as you entered. I have been with them through some of the hardest times of their lives. But it was only a year. And in the big picture, a year is nothing. They make new friends quickly and soon I know I will have been forgotten. Just as I have been forgotten so many times before. Tears sting my eyes and the wind blows them away. What have I done?, I cry despairingly in my head. I've done it again. I broke my promise six-fold. I gave them my heart. Pieces of my heart were placed in their hands. I have already lost two, in the ocean that day, off the coast of england. I do not know if I can bear to lose the other four. And out of those four, it hurts to think that the biggest piece that I have given away will be the first one I lose. I gave him the biggest piece that I could give, even after I promised myself that I wouldn't and look where it got me. Alone again. Why am I always losing people God? Why do you force this pain upon me? Why couldn't I just be the normal teenage girl who cries in the girl's bathroom on the night of the spring formal because her boyfriend of two weeks broke up with her? Why did I have to be the girl who will spend months crying over the boy who stole her heart the first time he smiled at her? Breathing deep, filling my lungs to capacity with the cold air, I focus again on the sound of my feet. I'm thinking myself into a frenzy. I do that sometimes. Quite often actually. Thoughts just swirl in my head, and if anyone else could take a look in there, they would see a million jumbled thoughts that are unconnected. But in my mind, they are all connected. One thing leads to another and when I'm alone, I can go from thinking about wanting chocolate to crying over my lost mother in five minutes flat. It's just the way I am. I think God must have wired my brain funny. Or perhaps I have gotten this way from spending so much time alone. After all, ever since I was first able to form rational thoughts, I have been alone for the majority of my time here on earth. Even in a room full of people, I find myself feeling alone. Especially here. While they talk about kick serves and footwork and backheads, they blur around me and I think about lens and flashes and focusses. Or I wish that I was out here. Running, racing against the wind. But I've gotten myself off track again. Which is probably a good thing. I've reached the end of the dirt road and I stop for a second, jogging in place to keep the blood flowing. I look left and start to turn, but stop. Am I ready to return yet? I can't keep running forever. I should go left. My head says left and that's the way I try to go. But my feet have already gone right. Apparently this is my body's way of telling me that I need to finish thinking things through. I do that a lot too. Start to think things and then stop abruptly. My breathing is starting to get laboured, but I know that I won't stop running until my brain winds down. Now where was I?
Now where was I? Oh ya, I believe this whole thing started with me wondering about him. Which I have yet to finish. I've never been good with boys and tend to get very depricating about my relationships with them. In my head, I make things out to be worse than they are. Which is most likely why I feel so horrible right now. I wish I didn't have to leave. Because even though he doesn't feel the same way, I can't help the way I feel about him. I can't help the way I melt at his smile. And I like melting. I don't want to leave and freeze over. But, I also know that the longer I stay here, the harder things will be for me. I don't play tennis and I never will. But pictures, that I can do. Which they all know. They understand that I need to leave. So I shouldn't feel bad. I shouldn't feel as though I'm leaving them behind. But I do. Or maybe I feel like I can't leave because they'll leave me behind. Because no matter how much I've resigned myself to the fact that it will happen, I don't want them to forget me. I've never cared about it before, but they're different. They've changed me. For better or worse, I can't really be sure. He's changed me. I've done things in the last year for him that I would never do for anyone else. He probably doesn't even realize it. Things so small that everyone else takes for granted. I showed him my pictures before I knew anything about him. I've never done that before. I used to be very guarded when it came to my work. But with him...well I know how it was with him. And I kissed him. I had almost convinced myself that I should become a nun because men were just scum, but then he kissed me and everything changed. I gave up fame for him. Or I would have. Maybe I should have, because then I wouldn't be in this situation. And I did a horrible thing. Something that I've never understood why people do and don't even fully understand why I did it. I tried to make him jealous. I toyed with another's emotions, another thing I hate, because I wanted him to be jealous. And he was. And while most of me hated the fact that he was angry at me, a tiny part jumped for joy because if he was jealous that meant he cared. But I was stupid. Because he doesn't care. This time next year, he'll have found someone else to keep himself occupied. I can feel more tears, threatening to fall and suddenly all I feel is the wind. My feet lift higher off the ground and I'm running so fast now that I'm practically flying. I'm not running away, I'm running to. I may be leaving them, but I'm running to something new. And I love the way that feels. The faster I run the more free I feel and all rational thoughts are pushed from my head. I forget that I'm leaving. I forget about them forgetting me. I forget about him. Well, almost. I wish that he could be here and see me like this. Maybe then he would understand me better. But he isn't and right now I don't care. Sweat seeps from my pores and my legs are starting to burn but I don't stop. I don't want to. I love this feeling. I don't want it to go away. But then suddenly, the building comes into view ahead of me and I slow, letting myself fall to the grass in a heep. My breathing is laboured and I don't think I could move if I tried. I know that I'm gonna be feeling this tomorrow. But for once in my life, I don't care. I was flying out there. Being me, with no one around to care, my brain was empty and full at the same time, I felt free and wild and powerful and in control, a varied array of emotions that made me feel like a queen. Lying there staring up at the paly pink sky, beginning to light with the sun, I can feel those emotions slipping away and I want desperately to grab them and hold them to me. I don't want to go back to being normal. I want to be what I am out there forever. I hear a door creak open and panic. I forget that they jog in the morning too. Manditory practice. Usually I get back before they get out. But today....I ran too long today. I lay still, hoping they won't see me. I don't want them too. Running is my thing. It's always been a private joy of mine and I want to keep it mine forever. It's too late I realize as I hear their feet run by in uniform. I'm sitting at the edge of the road. They're going to run right by me. They're going to think I'm crazy. And I don't care, I realize. I'm leaving them today anyway.I feel rather than see them go by. The ground vibrates beneath me as they run past. I feel their shade pass over top of me and one long shadow stays longer than the rest. But by the time I prop myself up to see who it is, they're gone. I stay lying there for a long time and lose track of time. Thoughts are swirling in my head again. I wish Megan were here. She'd tell me to stop whining and go out there and do it. Which is what I need right now. I miss her and Sebestien today more than ever before. I never got to tell them good-bye and it kills me inside. I don't want to forget them, but I fear that if I leave this place, nothing will tie them to me anymore and I will forget. I miss my mother. I wish she were here because I could always yell at her and never feel guilty. She was a bad mother and if I yelled at her she deserved it. As selfish and horrible as this sounds, even to myself, I liked having someone to yell at. I miss her so much even after everything. I wanted her to be the mother who goes shopping for prom dresses and cries at graduation. But she was the mother who got drunk and forgot me at the supermarket. Which hurt. I may only have been six, but it hurt. Those thoughts are pushed away as I find myself thinking about him again. I can't stop it. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, he's always in the back of my mind. He can't be my "one" I've decided. If he was I would be with him. Or have I done something so wrong that god doesn't think I'm good enough to be with him? They're coming back. I can feel them already. Most jog by a few muttering a tired "morning" under their breath, but one of them, I know who it is almost before I turn to look, flops down on the grass beside me.
"Hi." he whispers. Ya, it's him. I think about ignoring him. Then he'd go away and I could be left alone and wouldn't have to say good-bye to him. Yes, that's what I'll do, I'll ignore him.
"Hi." I whisper back. What was that? I scream at my mouth in my head. We're ignoring him remember?
"I didn't know you jogged." I can sense something radiating from him. He's trying to make himself act normal, but I can feel it.
"What's wrong?" I scream at myself for asking but I ask anyway.
"What's wrong?" I scream at myself for asking but I ask anyway.
"I didn't say anything was wrong. What's wrong with you?" he tried to distract me by asking me a question.
"I asked you first." I retort like a 3 year-old. Maybe he'll get annoyed and go away. I wish he would. I want him too. It's hurting already, talking to him like this. But I don't have the heart to tell him to go.
"I never said anything was wrong. I just said I didn't know you jogged." he was doing it again. Trying to make me answer him so I would forget my earlier question. The better part of me decides to cut him some slack.
"I've been jogging since I was 10." I reply shortly. Maybe this way he'll get the point and go away.
"Oh..why didn't you ever say anything?" It was still radiating from him. I could feel it and hear it in his voice. stronger each time a word slipped from his perfect lips.
"It's mine." I sound selfish and I want it to sound that way. Why won't he go away? Why can't I make myself tell him to go away? My chest is tightening again and I want to run away from him. But his voice calls me back.
"Yours?" he sounds amused and I get angry.
"Yes. Mine." I snap and I can almost feel him flinch.
"Sorry." he sounds sad and it hurts even more. I hate it when he does that. It makes me feel bad. God, why won't he go away? And why is that feeling still coming at me from his body? What is it?
"I...I didn't mean to snap." I grudingly apologize. Stop it! I'm shouting inside my head. Outside, I'm having a normal conversation and no one would know what's going on inside my heart. Inside, it hurts so much that I feel like I'm going to burst.
"It's ok." now he's being short. Is he going to leave now?
"Tell me what's wrong, Squib." I say his name for the first time.
"You didn't tell me you jogged." he seems bent on not telling me. And then I realize that maybe he is telling me.
"So?" my confusion comes out more strongly than I wanted, but with him..I don't really care.
"I just don't get why you didn't tell me." he's getting angry.
"I just don't get why it's a big deal." I'm mocking him and I know that it'll get him more angry, but maybe then he'll blurt out what's wrong. He's done it before.
"Why didn't you just tell me?" his voice is raising and he's getting really angry.
"Because I didn't want to!" Maybe that wasn't the best thing to say, but it's out there now.
"Why not?" he asks softly. Uh oh, he's gotten so angry he's calm. That can't be good.
"Because it's mine." I repeat my earlier comment, eluding him.
"I don't get it." Now he's angry and confused. That can't be a good combination. God, it's been ten minutes and he's till here! Neither of us have moved an inch.
"It's hard to explain. It's just...mine." I finish lamely. "I guess I just like being alone. I can run because I like it, not because I have to. No one's around to judge me."
"I won't judge you." he moves for the first time, standing above me and offering me his hand. I can see how tired he is and wonder why he wants to go again. I think about refusing and "No" almost leaves my lips. Then he smiles. And I'm powerless. I stick my hand out and he lifts me to his feet, surprising me with his strength.
"Where to?" he asks the wind blows into our faces.
"Anywhere but here." I take off, trusting him to follow. For a moment all I hear is silence and then I hear him, he catchs up in a few minutes and we're running side by side. I wonder now, how I could ever have even thought of refusing a few minutes ago. This is what I wanted. For him to see me out here, being me. The wind blows my hair from my face, encouraging me to glance over at him. When I do, I'm surprised to see him staring.
"What?" I ask, suddenly shy in front of him. I feel naked.
"You" he answers finally.
"Free?" I don't feel so shy anymore. He's seeing me exactly the way I see me.
"Ya." he answers shortly, smiling again. I almost stumble but I catch myself.
"You never told me what's wrong." I refuse to give in. He looks annoyed for a minute and then his face deflates and his mouth opens. I wait expectantly. He closes it and opens it again before answering.
"You never told me you jogged and you never told me you were leaving." he's angry again.
"Why are you so angry?" I ask, stepping up the pace slightly, testing him. He passes easily, keeping striding.
"Why didn't you tell me Cody?" he says my name for the first time and it sends a chill down my spine.
"Why does it matter?" I'm doing what he does, avoiding the question.
"It matters because....because...."
"Yes?" Now I'm angry and I step up the pace again. He ducks his head in shame and runs up beside me.
"I don't want you to go." he whispers so softly I almost don't hear him over the pounding of our feet.
"You'll find someone else to amuse you." I can't believe that I told him that and I panic. I'm all out running now. I don't want to see his face. I don't want to know that what I've said is true. I thought I'd left him behind, but suddenly he's panting is louder and he's beside me. He isn't going to let this go.
"Is that what you think?" he yells loudly over the wind.
"That you're just some play-thing for me?" he sounds offended. I don't answer, just run faster.
"I don't want to do this!" I shout finally, when I realize he isn't going away.
"Don't want to do what?" he asks, taking my arm firmly in his hand and pulling me down beside him to a slower pace. We're both panting, from exhaustion, from panic, from anger.
"This!" I shout, waving my arm between us.
"I don't know what that means Cody." he says gently. I turn away from him and start to pick up my pace again. Once again, his voice stops.
"Do you think you're just some play-thing?" he repeats firmly. I can tell he's going to make me answer.
"Yes." I answer confidently, firmly, boldly. My shield shatters in an instant. His face falls before me. He speeds up and pulls in front of me. He's jogging backwards, staring me down.
"Why? Why would you think that?" he's sad again and it breaks me.
"Because it's true. By this time next year they'll be another Cody." I try to get around him but he won't let me.

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