There’s always the worry of cars. Or coyotes. My neighbor swears up and down that he saw one in my yard recently.
And there was the screaming sound I heard last night. I went outside onto my deck, shining a flashlight around my yard, because I thought a child had gotten out of their home. But it wasn’t human screaming. After nervous comparisons on Youtube, I determined it was a fox.
Tonight, everything is quiet. I pull on my exercise clothes, still freshly scented with detergent. And I prepare to run.
I was never allowed to run after sunset when I was a teenager. My parents forbid it. I’d get hit by a car, or worse, kidnapped. Better to slowly die of heart disease, in a hospital bed when people can hold your hand as you go. But you still go, don’t you, in the end?
I still have reservations. I try not to run at night. I seek out the artificial glow of gyms, or the friendliness of morning runs. Mornings are when people walk their dogs. And people who walk their dogs are good people, the kind who won’t kidnap you.
But if I wake up late, and after I attend to work and homework and my fitness app says I still have 15 minutes to go, I lace up my sneakers and head outside at twilight. I decide on one loop around my neighborhood. Anything else, and it’ll be too dark. A full, inky dark I can get lost in. Twilight is my last refuge, and the furthest I’ll go.
Neon clothes are your friend at twilight, and people in cars tend to see those. You can’t wear just black or gray. You need to stand out when you run, like a child’s glow stick on Halloween.
So I go. Soon I feel like I’ve been running for a year, but it’s only been eleven minutes. I’m slow, but I try to outrun my thoughts. I can’t always out-think them or out-sleep them. I can’t hide them in a jar, because they always find their way out. But running silences them, for a little while at least.
Cars pass, as they always do, making their way in the night. Usually I’m in one of them, thinking, What’s someone doing out walking after dark? Or maybe they don’t notice me at all, as they ramble down the road.
I pull down my hood and let the full force of the spring air hit my face. My phone is recording my workout, as I rack up points like a player in a video game. My heart beats and tries to become strong. My legs ache and one of my feet starts to throb. Breathing is unusually difficult. But I look up, and the moon has risen, and home is within sight.