This happened two weeks ago. And I still can't stop thinking about it.
Of course, I tagged her in it. Because when she teamed up with her sponsor, Oiselle, to provide writing prompts for their followers during the month of March to celebrate International Women's Day, they asked us to tag them when we posted our responses.
I try to jump at any opportunity to bring writing, running, and reading together. In any combination. So when I saw this writing prompt, I knew I had to do it. It ended up as a story that I've tried to write before, but every other time, it just didn't feel right. Somehow, this very short prompt, "I remember" from a runner's perspective was just what it needed to be set free.
Here was my response to Oiselle and Lauren Fleshman's writing prompt, "I remember..."
I remember the cold night air on my face and arms. The YMCA was only a block from the dorm so I threw on a tee-shirt and shorts—no coat—and braved it.
I took on that tiny, indoor track with purpose. When sole hit ground, I let the tears come. Lap after lap, I replayed that afternoon's rehearsal in my mind. "It's clear to me that you just don't care." Her stare like talons, her words like knives. She was visiting violin faculty, known far and wide for her carefully delivered cruelty. She'd sized me up—ivory poet's blouse with a sweet pearl button, earnest eyes that cared so much—and chose the phrase that would hurt me the most.
I don't remember if I cried in that little rehearsal studio or if I held it in until after I’d left. I don't remember who talked to me when it was over. But I'll never forget the burn, the weight in my chest.
And I remember thinking: I have to run.
Afterward, I left the track and walked back to the dorm. My lungs were screaming and my shirt was soaked, but my eyes were dry and my heart was light.