‘One kilometre,’ the voice intones in my ear.
One foot in front of the other. Keep moving, I tell myself. It had been one of those days. Each step strips away a little more of what had been such a crap day.
I’m no stranger to shit days. It’s part of the job. Literally and figuratively.
Some days though, are harder to walk away from. So I’m running. I don’t usually run to my boxing playlist, but then today had been one of those days. I wanted the push, the drive. To feel the burn.
Running after shift is something I seldom do. Twelve hours dealing with some of the worst society has to offer, means coming to home to family is usually exactly what I need.
The pounding beat drives me on.
One step after the other.
Some things are best kept distanced from the kids.
My muscles start to ache, but I keep going.
Sure, some of us go home to drink, or out to drink. There are times a nice glass of wine, or something stiffer, is needed to take the edge off. Mostly though I have other ways of dealing. Family are the perfect offset to the negativity, aggression and bleakness of work.
When I need more, my addiction of choice is a muscle aching, sweat inducing workout. Weights, cardio, core, whatever feels right at the time
Tonight though, family aren’t there. They’re all out. Sleepovers, youth group, training. An empty house was the last thing I needed. I wanted a physical outlet, but couldn’t handle the thought of the gym at home. Somewhere along the way the idea of a punishing run had gotten stuck in my head.
Sure there’d been a little voice whispering, ‘You shouldn’t do that. Running at night isn’t safe.’
A louder, angrier part of my brain replied, ‘Fuck it! Just because I’m a woman shouldn’t mean I can’t work out however I want, whenever I need to.’
So I’d stripped off the work clothes, left them in a pile on the bathroom floor, and pulled on my workout gear.
Wanting to go hard, I dusted off the camelback. Outside the house key went into the zip pouch. Ear buds in, boxing playlist loud. I gave everything a bit of a shake to loosen the muscles and jogged out of the driveway.
Two kilometres, intoned the voice.
One foot in front of the other. Joints and muscles jarring.
It’s been an age since I’ve gone for a run. I hope it will shut my mind up. I haven’t gotten there yet.
‘Stupid bitch!’ The exclamation slips out, releasing a flood of thoughts from the day that had built up.
‘Threaten my family like that, you pissweak cunt! Threaten to kill my kids and burn my house down will you?’ The anger is burning through me again. I use it and push forward harder.
One foot in front of the other. Trying to get a grip on my emotions.
It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve been threatened. It happens a lot at work. Today though I seem to be having trouble letting it go. Probably in part due to the fact I’d spent half an hour holding a towel to a co-workers bleeding head, after an assault had left it split open.
Breathe, focus, push harder, I remind myself.
One step in front of the other.
It was just one of those days.
Even without shutting my eyes I can see the bite mark on my coworker’s stomach.
Things like what happened today are a reminder of just how brutal the job can be. How we need to never forget where it is we work and the type of people who populate our work environment.
Of course the powers that be, sit in their ivory and glass fucking towers, working in temperature controlled offices, making policy based on such bullshit statements as ‘they are women first and offenders second.’
Tell that shit to the people they beat up, kill, steal from and generally fuck over.
Women first, my…
I cut that thought off with an abrupt sigh that messes up my breathing pattern. Clearly I haven’t worked through all the detritis from the day. I want to rant, but no audience is a safe place for that, so I grasp at the thought that I like my job mostly. Or maybe I like being good at such a difficult job, so few are able to do. The bullshit and the politics do take their toll though.
The music fades out, three kilometres, informs the voice.
Today had been one of those days.
If anyone bothered to ask, I’d tell them it’s clearly a flawed system. There were certainly things they could change for the better but, while broad policies were being made with restricted budgets, limited focus and by people who hadn’t walked the floor or had forgotten what it was like in their quest for political attainment, those changes were unlikely to be for the best.
None of which is new, I remind myself. Hell I’d learnt very early on that logic had little place at work. Mostly I’d learnt to leave it at the gate, sometimes I forget.
My thoughts quiet finally and I realise my breathing is steady and my pace has leveled out. I tune into the song pouring through the earbuds. The driving beat urges me on. Dark music for a dark mood.
People outside the job simply wouldn’t understand all that working in such an environment entailed. Not that they really cared to. Some stories just couldn’t be shared, people outside just didn’t understand the dark, bleak, black as pitch humour and sexually laden comments that get us through the day. If they heard and saw, they’d likely say inapproriate, but they don’t understand. They’ll never understand.
I chuckle, it feels good. I’ve hit my stride and the last of the crap feels like it is flaking off.
Four kilometres, the flat voice intones before the music cranks back up.
I contemplate changing to my running mix, but don’t want to break my groove.
Something catches my attention. A distance back someone else is running. Faster than me, a quick glance and I can see they’re closing the distance. I shake my head, telling myself it’s nothing. I’m getting paranoid in my old age. I turn my attention to the moment. The music. The sweat. The burn. The beat.
Contact shoves me off the path, into a tree. I feel a sting as my head connects with the rough bark. An arm closes around my throat. Instinctively my chin goes down, and a grab the arm holding it just far enough away from my throat, ensuring I can still breathe. A hand fumbles roughly at my breast. I can feel hot breath on my neck before they bite into my flesh and sucking pulls at my skin. The hand moves from my breast and forces its way down the inside of my running pants. Anger thrusts through my clouded mind, struggling to catch up with the reality of the blitz attack.
Swinging my hips to the left I flick my right leg behind his, trying to ignore the fingers digging into my inner thigh. Shifting my weight I used my free arm to force him over my leg. As his balance shifts he releases his hold and I somehow keep my feet. I do not want to end up on the ground. Not a good place to be.
He hits the ground. Air forced from his lungs in a rush. I turn and stomp on his chest, hoping to cause enough pain that he sees me as a threat, not a victim worth pursuing. Another stomp to his ankle hoping it will prevent him from following me.
Swiping my arm across my face, I glare at the blood streaked marking my skin. Spinning, I run across the oval in a direct line home.
I no longer want to feel the burn. I just want to get home.
The tears start. Adrenaline isn’t masking the fear. I lock it all down, I need to stay in control. Buds from my earphones, had gotten caught around my arm and were slapping at my leg. I slow down just enough to untangle them, but don’t stop. I can’t. The anger is back. This time tempered by fear more than frustration.
My heart is pounding from more than the cardio workout.
Tony is going to be so pissed with me. He’s also going to be angry, I’m going to have to find a way to stop him going after the guy.
My mind ticks over double time. I want Tony to come and get me, but he might still be training and I need to give the stupid kid enough time to get anywhere else. Not because I want him to get away with it, but because Tony might kill him and I can’t let that happen.
The whole thing replays over and over as I keep putting one foot in front of the other. No longer feeling the burn, no longer caring.
Drawing closer to home I wonder if what had just happened was really the inevitable end of one of those days. It saddens me to think that. It saddens me that when I report it, there will be those who blame me for going for a run at night or for wearing tight workout pants and a running top.
Sometimes the world was just shit.
If I’m honest though I’m pleased I got a few hits in. Hopefully he will think twice before attacking someone else. It felt good to fight back. I turn into my own street and almost sigh with relief when I see Tony’s car in the driveway.
He opens the door before I knock. The light shining in my face. Tears burn behind my eyes, I won’t let them fall, not yet.
‘What the hell happened to you?’
‘You should see the other guy,’ I answer, forcing a smile as I push passed.
He grabs my arm. Looking up into his face I see home. Without thought I collapse into him. ‘I need to call the police. Don’t look for him. You need to take photos. And we’ll rub a cotton bud over my neck and wrap it up for the police. I need you here with me. He won’t be there, if he has any sense he’ll be at home licking his wounds.
His arms close around me tight.
I wince, but don’t protest. Being in his arms feels safe.
‘That’s my girl,’ he whispers, I can hear the emotion in his voice.
I have to smile, he knows me so well.
This was the perfect way to end one of those days.
The next morning I still hurt. It’s the pain that let’s me know what happened last night was real. I wish it wasn’t real, but I’m hardly the first woman to get attacked just because she’s a woman out by herself.
‘Babe,’ Tony comes through the door, something in his tone causes me to look up.
‘How badly did you hurt that guy last night?’ he asks.
I shrug, ‘Not very I don’t think, why?’
‘When I was taking the kids to school the news said they’d found a body...’
Further conversation is stopped by a knock on the front door.
About the Creator
Book lover and writer of fantasy fiction and sometimes deeper topics. My books are available on Amazon and my blog Fragile Explosions, can be found here https://kyliecalwell.wordpress.com
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