A Way Out

There is a girl
running down the street
on a calm and placid day.

“Hey,” you call,
“what are you running for?
The sun is out and it’s quiet.”

She doesn’t stop,
but you run with her,
catch up with her panting breaths.

“If I keep running,
they won’t catch me.”
She lifts a finger and points.

You turn; see the sudden onset
of a thousand different shadows
as they round the corner.

They’re huge.
“The more I run,
the more they come.”

“But the more they come,
the more you run?”
She nods; you run a little harder.

“The thing is,” she says,
“I don’t know how much
longer I can run for. I’m tired.”

She looks it;
there are shadows, smaller,
living underneath her eyes.

You look for a way out.
“You could jump in the river?”
It glistens alongside you both.

She stares at it, at you,
protests, “But that isn’t
a way out! What if they follow?”

“Well, then at least
you’d be swimming instead
of running until you collapse.”

She laughs, and the sound
is so rich that the shadows
recoil – but she doesn’t see it.

You reach out,
take her hand tightly,
and the two of you jump over.

The water rushes
past your ears and around
as the two of you start to swim.

It isn’t a way out –
but maybe the next ridiculous idea
just might be.