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      The Treadmill


You remember that my knees kind of suck, right? I mean, it`s off and on. They felt fine when we went for that run out on your farm. I guess I probably should have kept up with the running.

About a month ago, I went for a loop around the river valley, and my knees definitely didn`t appreciate it. It took weeks for them to feel even normal-*ish*. With Basic coming up in a couple of months, I figured I had to go to a physio and get this taken care of properly. Enter the treadmill.

I never liked treadmills. If I`m going to run, I`d prefer to at least get somewhere. This, however, was no time to mess around: professional consultation, proper shoes, a knee sleeve, and daily exercises to fix all of the stability problems in my legs and, yes, I would start with a treadmill rather than running on harsh concrete. I have to get through Basic no matter what: Finish Basic. Get sent to the coast (with you). Become a complete man (for you).

After a few times on the treadmill, it becomes clear that my knees are healing up nicely. Oddly enough, the run itself becomes *harder* without the distracting anticipation of pain. This is my third or forth time, and I can feel my lungs burning and my heart pounding all to get from point A to point A. Sweat begins to pour down into my eyes, and I blink hard to try to squeeze out the sting.

That`s when it hits me. Through my eyelids, I can see everything from back on that farm. The electric fences that somehow refuse to hurt me. The cows, so peaceful and oblivious to how their lives would end. Woods so green and lush that I start to doubt that they`re real. The prairie sun pounds down on the dirt path that seems to go on forever, at least to my urban eyes.

Maybe for you it`s just a fun time humouring me on my little jog. But I`m lucky enough to get to run next to *you*. You are always beautiful, but today there`s something special about your smile, your fluttering hair, your laugh, your yoga pants.

Eyes open. Back on the treadmill. I`m grinning like an idiot. I check the clock and notice with considerable delight that my time`s not even half up. Another 20 minutes to be with you again. My head fills with this sickeningly purple prose, and it is *paradise*. I knew then that I could run forever on this stupid machine. Even if my knees crumbled, I would float. I just had to close my eyes.

Back on the farm. I`m not quite sure how I can be so happy, knowing that you`re going to move away in the fall. Maybe it`s this breeze, this road, these cows. Maybe I`m just pushing aside the pain. Then again, maybe I somehow know that you will cry yourself to sleep after you leave. Maybe I know that you won`t be able to move on. Could I know that you`ll miss me so much that you`ll spend New Year`s with me, and that you`ll vow to see me every chance you get? Could I know that a couple months later after much soul-searching you`ll realise that life just isn`t right without me? Who could guess that you would actually call me up and ask me to move with you to the coast and begin a great adventure a great life together?

Memories intermingle. Although the searing summer sun pours down on my shoulders, I can feel the crisp winter air on my hand. I`m holding my phone to my ear as you tell me just how much you miss me and just how much I mean to you. The only conclusion is that we should give *us* a real chance. I promise to always live a life of both adventures and dreams. Anything for you. Especially since it made me stronger better than I`d ever been.

But it`s a good bet that you don`t remember that my knees kind of suck. Although your brain was always so sharp and adaptable, your episodic memory somehow failed. Do you even remember the tears you shed for me? Do you remember the way you acted around me? I guess it took you about a month to let your anxieties wipe those memories. By then, I had figured out how to align all of my personal affairs and my career path to match up with the dreams you had for us. You, on the other hand, spent that same time convincing yourself that your feelings weren`t strong enough to be with me after all.

Eyes open. The treadmill is on its cool-down cycle. I hide streams of our tears behind buckets of sweat. My knees feel a bit stiff. I glance down at my phone. Just like every other time I look at it, I remember your breakup text. A text to break up with the person you trust the most, the one who knows you better than anyone in the world. Those were your words. I just can`t make sense of this. I can`t believe we aren`t together. The harshness and chaos of this reality simply will not do.

Eyes closed. Back on that dirt road. You turn to tell me that you`re sorry. You realise now that the harder you fall for me, the more afraid you are of losing me. You tell me that this time you remember. You remember everything. You put on a courageous face, then a smile, and you take off down the road in front of me. You look over your shoulder to make sure I`m enjoying the view. I stop to chuckle, grin like an idiot, and then sprint on after you.


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