She ran, her breath hot and thick in the cool afternoon air. The clock tower struck three with strong, rippling gongs. She’d been at it for nearly an hour, now. Her lungs felt cold, but not tired. In fact, it was her legs that were worn out after eight miles, not her respiratory system. It had been a long time coming. Autumn training had gotten off to a rough start when she’d realized she could barely run a mile any more. Then again, that’s what two months in a hospital bed and four months of physical therapy would do to an accident victim. The universe is unforgiving toward the weak.

And so, she’d flown in the face of the universe. Threw up her middle finger at every doctor who told her she’d never run again. Her spine couldn’t take it, they’d said. It would be her undoing. They didn’t know her.

Here she was, four months later, and in the best shape of her life since just before the accident. Her breath became more rapid as she picked up her pace, running straight for the row of ducks quacking loudly at the water’s edge. One of them looked up, hearing her approach. He voiced a warning. They flew.

Something gave out.

She fell.




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