Thick foam. Support — pedestal for a statue. On a webpage, a store shelf; a box, a bag, a shoe rack, a pair of feet.
Rubber soles. Carpet, concrete, asphalt, grass, gravel. Wings to soar off freely into the sky, ship to sail into the boundless sea. Alone, unhindered, you and your limits, catharsis. Soles on a line with a hundred others, mounted above them colorful flags of a dozen designs, gradient of navy and scarlet and green. Puff of smoke a hundred yards away, ripple of the gunshot across the field. Soles no longer in a line, flags no longer a gradient, but streaks over the green, up hills, through turns, striving to be anything but a line. Soles of passion, achievement, rivalry, belonging.
Dirty treads. Mud: once fresh, flesh of the earth, body of the sport, alive, burning, flying, clinging to you. Kicked off on new ground, caked over, and over and over and over. But not forever.
One day is the last day. The last mile. The last stride. Maybe you didn’t think it was. Stepping through the door, pulling loose the knot of the laces. Dirty treads, memory of what once was. Rubber soles. Thick foam. A pair of feet, a shoe rack, a bag, a box, a shelf. Forgotten pedestal for a forgotten statue. .1
Originally published on April 30, 2020. Edited and updated on May 12, 2020.
[original note, 4/30/20] Playing around with short fiction and story arcs. Haven’t written much fiction before; this is 80% not fiction, inspired by nostalgia on sight of my own unused running shoes (COVID in NYC), with lots of running imagery I’ve used before, but taking liberties to better express the thoughts and feelings. ↩