She closed the door behind her and twisted the key in the lock. Flipping open her earbud case, she pulled each one out and slipped the bean sized headphones into her ears. She walked toward the stairs as she scrolled through playlists on her phone until she found one that she thought would help.
She jogged down the three flights of stairs, onto the concrete walkway of the first floor, and out the gate to the parking lot. The sound of EDM in her headphones and the feeling of just getting up and moving helped to keep her mind from focusing on the summer temperature. A quick scan of the sky above revealed no chance of rain, just a few scattered clouds that glowed at the edges with bright orange and pink. The soft scent of rain filled the air, tempting her mind to wander toward the thought of a cool evening shower.
Normally, she checked the weather before each run, but she had been too distracted by the messages earlier to bother with it. As far as she knew, there was no chance of rain showers, but she also knew the weather man often didn’t get it right. She and her friends often joked that the weatherman would claim whatever the people wanted would come. If they had a long series of rain or snow, the weatherman would promise sun even if that wasn’t on the radar. But if there were long periods of sun, the weatherman would call for rain and snow.
Still, it was nice to be prepared, especially when taking a run and planning to go a few miles from home. A rain shower might be nice though; it would be like getting the past cleaned off of her, a fresh beginning where everything that happened was just memories and she could move on. If only it was that simple. But it was a nice thought to her.
She made her way across the parking lot with a steady jog, turning right onto the sidewalk and continuing passed the second building of apartments owned by the same company. She glanced up, checking the stop light that led out of the parking lot as she passed it. Technically, the street was only three ways–the main street and the side street–but the cars from the apartment complexes often used them. She also kept an eye out since it seemed to be a hotspot for accidents. The last thing she needed right now was to get stopped because someone decided to run a red.
She looked forward, noting the light was green, and kept moving forward. The feeling of the air cooling around her and the sound of music blocking out most of the traffic kept her going. She wondered why she stopped running at all, why she waited days after her breakup to get back into the swing of things. A lot of people told her it was the healing process; it was like having to grieve over a loss. She understood they meant well, but the jog got the blood flowing and got her feeling less alone, less lost in the shock of the breakup.
The city lights flickered to life above her as the sun set further behind the horizon. She sped up her pace, feeling the initial burn of her throat and lungs as her heart pounded in her chest. The stress of everything began to fade away as she continued down the street, her mind focusing only on the movement of her body. She scanned the sidewalk as she went, checking for anything that might get in her way. Most of the people still out and about waited under the secure overhang of the bus stops, huddled together on the turquoise painted benches or standing just behind it to avoid the other people.
She gave them quick glances as she passed but didn’t take in anything about them. They were just distractions to her; things to remind her that she put off her live stream thanks to Freddy, which would remind her that Freddy was gone. After a year of, what she thought, to be a good and solid relationship, it just came to an end. And all because she wanted to create content; it was her form of her own business. She didn’t have anything to sell, no skills to monetize, but she had always been charismatic and good with people. It just made sense to her.
He didn’t even give her the chance to fix it. No warning, no opportunity. It was like one day he just decided he didn’t love her anymore and that was the only excuse he could come up with. At least, that was how it felt to her, and that was what hurt the most. He knew going into the relationship that she was growing her social media presence, hoping to monetize off of her videos and her live streams. To just call it off like that felt… cold.
She came to a stop at a stop light, jogging in place as she pushed the button and watched for the light to flash orange. Her muscles were beginning to feel the burn, but her lungs were beginning to feel more open and less ragged. It was the peak moment of the run to her; she knew after just a little while longer, the feeling would go away and she would feel even better.
A car honked as it passed cutting through her music. She jumped. Her heart skipped a beat. She looked to the cars in the intersection, watching a black sports car drive by slower than the rest. The driver leaned over some, their passenger window rolled down as if to get a better view. She saw their green eyes looking at her, a black hood covering the rest of their head. Her eyes narrowed and she shot them a glare as they passed on and eventually sped up.
The worst part of any run, in her mind, was when men would catcall or honk at her. On occasion, they would even try to get her to go into the car with them. What made it worse: tonight, she didn’t have anything she normally carried for protection. Just like checking the weather, she had been too distracted to bother with it.