by Howard Timlin
I ran. I ran from everything. I ran from the bombs. I ran from the dead. I ran from the sadness. I ran.
The world was crashing down around me, but still, I put one foot in front of the other. I was not going to be weak like the government, the enemy, my family, and so many others. I was going to stand alone. I was going to be strong. I wasn’t going to rely on bombs, technology, or anything else to get me out of that mess. I was better than that.
My heart was an impatient child’s foot, and my chest was a blazing flame. I ran so hard, I could have sworn the dead were tearing at my legs, trying to break my will. I almost stopped and let them take me. Almost.
After what seemed like a century, I reached the forest. I simply collapsed. I gazed up at the boundless sky, tinged with smoke, and felt bad for the innocent stars who were being soiled by humanity’s filth. I didn’t dare look back. I just laid there soaking up the beauty of the things we hadn’t yet obliterated and hoped.
When morning came, I wasn’t ready. I was still deeply fatigued and soaked with sweat. I had ran farther into the night than I had thought. I felt like punching myself, but I knew that would get me nowhere. When I stood up, everything ached. I was starting to regret not bringing proper bedding.
I continued on my way, this time at a slower pace. I didn’t want to have to stop for breaks. I needed to get as far away as possible in the shortest amount of time. The search parties would be coming soon.
I ran for days, stopping only at night to sleep and eat. Escape became my life. Escape was all that I could comprehend. When I finally reached the safety of the mountains, it took me a while to fully realize that I didn’t need to keep running. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was safe. They could not control me past the mountains; I was free. I could do what I wanted to. What really made it worth all the work though, was the fact that I didn’t have to worry any more. There was no more responsibility, structure, deadlines, bombs, or violence. I didn’t have to worry about how well the world managed my life because I was in control; I was my own president.
I wasn’t going to lead my country into the ground as the government did so many months ago. I was going to lead my country like it should be led, like it deserved to be led. I was going to start anew. I would be careful not to make the same mistakes as past leaders. I would be fair. I would be just. I would be better. What I didn’t realize though, is that all the past leaders had thought the same thing.