There was something that made Maniac Magee run. I don't remember if he was running from or to something, or if it was the innate love of movement that fueled him.
I just remember him running. And his pizza allergy. And the theme of equality.
I stop and wrap my right pointing finger and thumb along the bead of my bracelet; the clasp where the initials JM are carved, where the wire of the band are coiled into one now ovular circle. I glare absently at the trees ahead.
I want to stop this. I want to crash off the path and be where I was before, or someplace new entirely, and I want to be content there. I want to want to stay there.
I want to built home again.
But even as I move the bracelet back and forth along my wrist, the particles of my arms being to boil, the sensation and temperature rising to my shoulders where my blood vessels must conjoin and weave to my life source because my heart erupts into panic and I can't stand here anymore.
And I don't know why.
It's different from those times I ran in the past, different from when Maniac first started running. Before there was pizza and question of equality.I've been unraveling thread as I've run; the farther I travel the tighter it pulls me back. It must be what triggers the boiling within me. It must be what urges me forward.
I stop again, my hand gripping a tree.
What pulls me onward is what tethers me back.
I wipe an agitated portion of my bangs from my forehead.
There was a day, when I was 12, when we went white water rafting. They debriefed us beforehand, specifically saying to lie on your back and plug your nose should you fall out of the raft. The life jacket would keep you moving down the river, but if you wanted to breath you'd have to get on your back to make it safely through.
We hit a giant rock at the portion of the rapids that were only three feet deep but very swift. I, along with all my raft-mates save two, was hurdled into the river. I felt my feet brush the riverbed. My knees were bent and my feet where touching hard ground. I tried three times to stand up.
It was infuriating to know I could reach the sturdy purchase of the rocks beneath me, and momentarily succeed in doing so, only to be swept away from freedom and breath. I was drowning in three-foot-deep water. I was dying where I should have survived.
My heart has reached that state of panicked frustration and I'm back to running. It's those rapids all over again: the moment I find structure and security it is wrangled from me, and I am left suffocating and overcome. But this time there is no hand pushing me to lie on my back, no voice telling me to plug my nose so I can stop struggling for air. All I have is a thread tethered to something in my past I'm determined to escape, but for whatever reason I tied the thread there in the first place. For whatever reason I want it to keep me focused on what I'm desperately escaping. I, at some point before the running began, wanted to have a way back to this.
And as a result it's drowning me.
And I don't know why.