At the lane

December 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

At this time in the morning there are no cars on the lane. The man climbing over the stile to drop down into the high-sided road is flushed with the sweat of the last seven miles across half-empty sheep-fields, the hands-on-quads push up the steep inclines and the long loose paces back down again.

He isn’t usually out here this early. Ordinarily he’d be in bed, struggling against the morning, else he’d be in the car, threading his tie back through itself as he waits for the barrier at the level crossing to lift. Ordinarily he’d be out here in the evening, running with the club, orange tabards dotting the paths as the stronger lads push forward and those women, always the same two or three, stumble along at the back as they struggle to talk and run. Always the same people, always the same places.

He likes running with the pack because he knows his place – at the front, knowing he won’t be caught, not even by that young Jones lad, not now, not ever. Today, though, he’s out in the morning, pushing on through the fields; he’s not hearing the insistent birdsong or seeing the rabbits scattering in his path, but is instead plotting, rehearsing, reviewing his position. He is being interviewed for his own job this afternoon, see, and this man who does not, cannot, will not fail, has found himself for the first time in years to be less than certain.

He drops into the road and his trainers beat the tarmac into shape as he twists back down towards the village.


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