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Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 10)

The Sixth Peril: Envy

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 7 months ago Updated 7 months ago 12 min read
Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 10)
Photo by Omar Ram on Unsplash

This is Part Ten, for previous installments:

Jogger's Trail - Jogger's Trail the Story - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - Part Five - Part Six - Part Seven - Part Eight - Part Nine

With a nod from him, the pair of us pass through the veil into the realm of Envy. It feels like a mixture of greed and wrath, a hollow hungry sensation sits in my gut but my chest is heated with uncontrollable rage.

Glancing to my side I watch Alaric dissipate, “Are you still there?” I call into the void as the world shifts around us.

“I’ve got your back kid.” He replies.

I can practically hear the smirk on his lips.

Smiling to myself I watch as the realm begins to present itself.

We are in a park, the wind rustles the trees around us and the sounds of children playing nearby come into focus.

I realize that I am sitting, not on a bench but in a wheelchair. My skin is aged and covered in wrinkles, I continue to take in my new appearance but am interrupted by pain radiating throughout my body. It starts at my hips and lower back and drills its way through out the rest of my body, slowly with great anguish.

Fighting a groan that escapes my lips, I now understand the necessity of the wheelchair.

Seated alongside me, I find an old man comfortably lounging on the park bench at my elbow.

He smiles to himself as he watches the children in a nearby park playing, frolicking in the grass as excited giggles escape their lips.

Consumed by hatred for the children and their disregard for my peace I continue to gaze at my husband with disdain. Grumbling to myself as I wish he’d clue in and give me my pain medication already so I didn’t have to entertain his fantasies of watching these butt gremlins causing a ruckus.

“Kid, I think you’re losing focus here.” A familiar voice calls from somewhere nearby.

“Who's there?” I mumble through my toothless mouth, shifting slightly to look around. I see no one but my air-headed husband.

I huff to myself as I watch him mindlessly tossing the little demon’s ball back to them.

Looking at the purse that hangs from the side of my wheelchair, I debate hurling it at the fool who dares ask for his ball back.

“Kid, this isn’t real.” The voice calls again and causes me to shift a little more in search of the source. “Tesha, you need to snap out of it and focus.”

At the recognition of my name, I come to my senses. Taking a metaphorical step back at the realization that this isn’t my life, I’m just here to help this woman.

Then another round of pain shoots through our shared body and I have to bite my tongue to hold back the whimper that threatens to escape our lips.

“Kid, are you there?” Alaric calls, his voice holding a note of worry.

“Yeah, but this woman is in a lot of pain,” I say, still finding it hard to focus.

“I know, but you need to remember this is just an illusion. This isn’t real.” Alaric reminds me in a pity-filled voice.

“That’s easy for you to say, you don’t have to share this body.” I retort through gritted teeth, “Ow.” I whine as another wave of pain radiates through our body again.

“Then ask your husband for some pain medication and try to remember why we are here.” He advises.

“All I want to do is run those kids down with my wheelchair,” I mutter, feeling my sense of reality begin to slip again.

Alaric scoffs, trying to suppress a laugh. “Although that would be funny, I can not recommend you do that.” He replies, “Just ask for some meds and then you should be able to focus.”

“Fine.” I agree but am still tempted by the idea. Knowing all I have to do is push the joystick, beside my hand, forward with a single finger.

My eyes fall on the joystick and my pointer finger begins to nudge it forward.

“Don’t.” Alaric commands in a more stern voice.

My chair lurches forward slightly and suddenly Herman stirs.

“What’s going on?” He asks in alarm, his eyes filled with worry. As he gets to his feet, as hastily as his body will allow and is standing at our side.

“Hit it by mistake,” I reply, caught off guard at his sudden intervention.

“Okay, well let’s back you up a little. I don’t want those kids to accidentally hit you with their ball.” He mutters, walking to our other side and using the control stick to back us up again.

I accept the help but make a mental note that on my next attempt, I need to be quicker on the draw.

“You can’t keep letting her sneak in. Take control, Tesha!” Alaric pleas, “Come on kid, I believe in you.”

My name and the tone of Alaric’s voice is what snaps me back into reality.

“What are you thinking about?” Her husband asks, reminding me again that I have a job to do. He takes a seat on the bench again, watching us in apprehension.

“I was thinking someone needs to find those damn kids’ parents and tell them to stop letting them run amok.” The old woman I inhabit gums in a barely decipherable voice.

“Are you hurting again?” He asks, reaching for her purse and starting to sift through for the right bottle of medication.

“I’m always hurting.” The woman mumbles in aggravation.

“Here.” He offers her a couple of pills and begins opening her water bottle for her.

The woman accepts the pills and water but continues to simmer in her chair beside him. She continues to watch the children with disdain, hateful that her punishment in life is to watch them amble around while her body is strained by even the smallest of movements.

I feel her pointer finger itching for the joystick again but is intercepted by her husband placing his hands across her body and on that hand.

“I’m sorry you hurt and that it’s so hard to watch others be happy. But you don’t have to be miserable.” He begins, giving her a look of pity. “Happiness is a choice.”

“Easily said for you.” The old woman snarls, “You aren’t stuck in a decaying, painful body like I am.”

“You don’t think it hurts me just as much to see you like this and be unable to do anything about it?” He challenges, a look of hurt flashing through his eyes. “I watch you every day and I admire your strength for just getting up in the morning.”

The old woman is moved by her husband’s words but still feels hateful towards the children, flaunting their health in front of her.

Seeing her gaze, her husband turns to watch the kids for a moment and then back to her.

“I used to envy them too,” he begins but his voice seems different. Changed in some way that I can’t quite pinpoint. “But now I see our age as a gift. They know nothing of what true love feels like, the joy of bringing a baby into the world or being a grandparent. They don’t know what good food is or what it feels like to travel the world.” He pauses, looking over his shoulder at the children again.

Then it hits me, Alaric is speaking through the old man, helping me.

I can feel her hatred fading with each passing moment and the heartfelt sentiment Alaric shares through the man. “Keep going,” I call into the void, hoping Alaric can hear me.

“They don’t know what it means to stay up until sunset talking with someone because you can’t get enough of them. They don’t yet know what a privilege it is to grow old alongside your true love and spend a lifetime together, with countless memories.” He pauses again, smiling at her as tears begin to well in his eyes.

“I don’t envy them because although our adventures are coming to an end, we share a love that many know scarcely of. We each have someone who will stand at our side even at our worst and whose faith in us is unwavering. Many call it quits before this stage of life and I’m grateful enough to have reached this phase with you. Most of those kids will never have even a fraction of what we have.” He finishes with a sigh, a single tear leaks out and falls down his cheek.

The old woman’s eyes are brimming with tears as she watches her husband, hanging off of his every word.

“So if you ask me, they are the ones that should envy us.” He adds, a weak smile as he fights more tears that begin to flow. His tone has changed again, I know that Alaric has done his job.

“Hug him.” I urge the old woman and she obliges, leaning in and wrapping her arms around her husband.

“I guess when you put it like that. Happiness really is a choice.” She agrees as they pull away from each other.

Putting a hand on her cheek, “Let’s go home, Dear.” The old man mutters.

The old woman agrees and they walk/ ride out of the park and into a brighter than strictly necessary sunset. That washes over us, as Alaric and I find ourselves in our original forms, about to pass back through the veil once more.

Pausing before the veil, “Thank you.” I say with a grateful smile, reaching a hand out and patting him on his cold scaly back.

“Like I said, I’ve got your back, kid.” He replies, smiling down at me as we continue onward.

“What’s with this ‘kid’ stuff anyways?” I ask as we pass through the veil and suddenly feel sticky as though I were drenched in sweat and let it dry.

“I was trying out a new nickname for you.” He admits, also glistening as though having been through the same stale workout.

“That was close.” Mendel comments, pulling our attention to him.

Fatigue begins to overtake my body as I take a few more steps and slowly lower myself to the cold stone floor. I sigh in relief as I allow myself to lie down and look at the stalactite-covered ceiling.

Alaric does something similar, saddling himself into a seated position near me.

“I don’t think I would have made it without you.” I huff, feeling short of breath.

“I think you would have, I just gave you a push.” He replies modestly, giving me a weak smile and playful wink.

“I will say that was an interesting peril.” Nakos chimes in, “I found it curious that you were able to inhabit someone in the realm to help Tesha.” He explains, furrowing his brow in thought as he examines the doorway from a distance.

Sitting up I follow his gaze, watching the doorway as the veil turns grey and the image of the old man and woman appears. The pair of them sitting on the electric wheelchair; her husband on her lap as they rush forward. Travelling at such a high speed the hair is pulled back and clothes whip in the wind. The couple smiling like a pair of school children out for a joy ride.

A smile crosses my lips as I take in the image before being pulled back to the Rellik's conversation.

“I had no idea you could do that.” Madra comments, looking at Alaric in amazement.

“Me neither, but I was desperate to do something. To save her.” He explains, looking to the floor with a smile. His gaze is unfocused as though recalling a fond memory.

With a sigh, I decide it’s time to get up and take on the last peril. My feet find their way to the sunset-pink doorway and I sigh once more, looking up at the overhead text.

“Not stronger than love but more than fondness. This can blind your judgement and will leave you feeling a sense of longing that can never be fulfilled.” Mendel reads out, doing his best to suppress his desire to ask if he can help.

“I think this is either infatuation or lust,” I reply, considering the Rellik alongside me.

“Alright, let’s go,” I say in an unassuming voice.

“Wait, what?” He asks in shock, his eyes wide in excitement.

“Let’s go,” I say, taking a step forward.

“Wait.” Nakos calls from behind us, “Are you sure about this? After your last one, it’s apparent that these are getting more and more challenging. He has yet to help in a task, is this the best time for his first assistance in the perils?” He inquires. A look of apprehension spreads through all the Rellik.

My gut sinks for a moment, but I push the doubt from my mind. Knowing he is the one who needs to help me with this.

“I believe in him, besides he may not ever get the chance to be a part of this. I think it’s important we all participate.” I counter, hoping someone will chime in and agree with me.

“I agree.” Alaric states, sensing I need the backup. “We didn’t get past the third peril until I participated, I think it’s a good idea to involve the boy if he wants to help.”

“Thank you.” I mouth and give him a weak but grateful smile.

“And how do you feel about it?” Madra inquires, her worried gaze focusing on Mendel.

“I agree, this is my time to step up.” He asserts with confidence.

“Then so it shall be.” Nakos agrees, smiling to try to hide his nervous expression.

Ignoring it, I turn back to the doorway and nod to Mendel as the pair of us walk through the veil and into the realm of Lust.

Part Eleven:

Young AdultMagical RealismFictionFantasyCliffhangerAdventure

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

Thank you for stopping by!! 💚💙💜🩵

If you are interested in longer works by me, I have two books published on Amazon.

Jogger's Trail and Fox in The Hole.

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Comments (13)

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  • The Invisible Writer7 months ago

    I loved Alaric’s speech in this one so poignant. Such a beautiful way to look at the sunset waiting for us all. Well done Donna!

  • ema7 months ago

    I happen to envy older couples who have spent their whole lives together... great chapter!

  • ThatWriterWoman7 months ago

    Oh, I love Alaric! And I love this chapter! I am sorry it's taken me so long to catch up on it! I took another big break from Vocal! I adore how you crafted this peril, and how they old woman's envy was poisoning her mind and her relationship. I am so glad you included Alaric jumping into her husband to encourage her. I felt that was beautiful and poetic. His words are so inspiring! The ending with the wheelchair ride!! I love it!! Brilliantly written!

  • Lamar Wiggins7 months ago

    I agree with a lot of the comments here. This is one of if not my favorite episode. The explanation that the old guy gives is brilliant. I was understanding it the same way as the old lady. It had a weird effect on me like I was realizing the power of the words for myself as I read them. Great stuff, Donna. 💖💖🤩

  • Novel Allen7 months ago

    I agree with Mark, Dana and yourself, this one is my fave so far. I felt the aches in the body and the envy of youth. We are all getting there. You are on fire Donna, so many challenges in so little time. I am trying to catch up. Hugs and blessings on your craft.

  • Mohammed Darasi7 months ago

    Don't think I've ever heard "butt gremlins" before 😂😂😂. Love the peril concept here with the older woman being envious of healthy youngsters... it's very easy to take health for granted honestly, and we can only realise it when we're ailed with something.

  • Tina D'Angelo7 months ago

    "With a nod from him, the pair of us pass through the veil into the realm of Envy. It feels like a mixture of greed and wrath, a hollow hungry sensation sits in my gut but my chest is heated with uncontrollable rage." Donna, this is absolutely gut-wrenchingly believable. Your writing is immaculate and every word has a purpose. I could read your stories all day!

  • Dana Crandell7 months ago

    My favorite so far. You portrayed the couple beautifully and the jump to the old man was a great surprise.

  • Okay you were right! I enjoyed this sooooooooo much! I think I even have a crush on Alaric 🙈🙈🙈❤️❤️❤️ I was so shocked when Alaric took over the old man's body! You always drop something new on us to keep things interesting! Also, if I was Alaric, I would have encouraged the pld lady to run down the kids with her wheelchair! 🤣🤣🤣🤣 I'm so happy that Mendel is finally getting a chance to help. Let's see how it goes. I'm so sad that we're coming to an end as it's the final peril. I'm like so attached to them 🥺❤️

  • J. S. Wade7 months ago

    Butt Gremlins? hahahaha. Tell us how you really feel. lol. just kidding Great episode. 😍

  • Thavien Yliaster7 months ago

    He replies, “Just ask for some meds and then you should be able to focus,” You might want to end that with a period mark. Yo, Alaric taking over the mind of her husband is flipping dope! Like, now I have to wonder if that only worked for that veil with Alaric specifically, or if the other relliks would've been able to do something like that. Like imagine Nakos being the father running the restaurant instilling some wisdom in him beyond the father's years, or imagine Madra taking over the mother thinking about what's really healthy for her daughter and imagining all the anguish she caused her in the realm of gluttony or how angry she could've made Mr. Abidi at himeself by asking him "What if somebody treated Your own son or daughter this way? Would You allow their actions to go unpunished? Do You think Your own children would deserve to be treated just as harshly for wanting to protect their own family? Imagine what it would be like if You were gone. How would they get by?" Like, that adds such a spin factor to it, it begins to boggle the audience's mind of what is permissible and what isn't. Like, "Wait, we're allowed to do that, now?" Lowkey, I laughed at the term "butt gremlins." I'm so used to hearing the insult "crotch goblins!" Ha! I really enjoyed how angry and gluttonous You made the woman's envy. The fact that You had Alaric step in to help set things straight was spectacular. It's like sometimes people just need to be listened to and allowed to vent. They don't need to have other people always solving their problems for them. What Alaric did through the old man, making them fond of their memories is really quite beauteous. In the anime "Hellsing Ultimate" the immortal vampire, Alucard, finds people who have aged to be beautiful. He called the queen of England even more beautiful than when he first laid his eyes on her. For some immortal monsters they roam the battlefields wishing for death, as existence can be pain for them (think of Mr. Meeseeks). Meanwhile in the abridged series Alucard is like, "Oh shut up You old hag! I'd still wreck You like Diana! (nobody alive can comprehend his sexual preference)" And to be able to live long and have such a beautiful life with shared memories of true love through good times and bad is what many people wish to share and have in their life. I loved how in the end the couple is racing in their electric wheelchair. That's a kind of thing that people would see on Instagram and comment: "If our relationship ain't like this, then I don't want it." I enjoyed how Tesha didn't just take more of a passive role in this time, but how Alaric was constantly checking on her. It was like this was the true veil where he had to overcome his sloth. As for Tesha, it's nice seeing that even with a person who's failing in health that she had to try harder to maintain control. Like, I thought wrath or greed was the hardest. This shows that the veils are taking their toll on her. Plus, makes sense that Tesha would be called a 'kid.' The relliks are probably several centuries older than her, let alone decades. Oh, it is ironic that this is a story dealing with kids when most of Alaric's humans never made it past age 10. So, I have feeling that this was a huge learning lesson in him by watching over somebody much older than he's ever experienced, plus watching them have something that his other humans had that he doesn't. Freedom... You chose a superbly great topics for people to be envious about; youth, mobility, and a lack of pain. I remember when a woman who was getting married talked about how she was shot, and now she has to go down the aisle in her wheelchair. She cried saying, "If I could walk again for just one moment in my life, this would be it." Lowkey, I would be devastated if I ever lost my mobility. Yet, glad that I was able to enjoy for so many years, cause there are so many people born without being able to do so. I live a very blessed life, and even for the blessings that I don't have but desire, I'm thankful for the life that I live. This realm was all a lesson about thankfulness and appreciation. Good work, Donna. Greed stole the show when it came to action and regret, but this takes the cake when it comes to nostalgia. Last but not least, "MENDEL! WHOOP! WHOOP! IT'S ABOUT TIME! I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR MY BOY TO GET HIS DEBUT!" I also do wonder what perils he's helped with previously before Tesha. Being that every other rellik has helped before Alaric, I wonder what sins he has that Tesha saw but decided that the other three were more troubled by. Plus, I'd be pretty hilarious and ironic if they walked through the veil and they're back at the perils of Efil because Mendel's sin of lust is to always want to help, but he's not ready yet. So, he has to learn to be patient. So, they have to keep himself patient as they're in the body of another person, or in Tesha's body back in time before she has a 2nd judgement and decides to go with Mendel in one of the other veils instead of Madra, Nakos, or Alaric. Hence, They have to stop himself in order to keep their current timeline safe. Looking forward to part 11, Donna!

  • Alexander McEvoy7 months ago

    I totally understand the feelings of that old woman, you evoked those so well! This was amazing and such a great representation of envy! You went beyond my expectations with this one!! Super looking forward to lust :)

  • Mark Gagnon7 months ago

    Glad you posted this before I go to work. This is so relatable because it's easy to forget what life has offered as we get caught up in old age. I think this is your best one so far!

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