The Night Run
A short story based on actual events by Chelsea Walker
She sits down on the brown couch in the living room to tie her shoes and then she’ll be ready to go.
“Are you running, Mom?” Stella asks.
“Yep.” Chelsea finishes her runner’s knot and stands to adjust the lighted vest she’s wearing tonight. It is already dark out. “Ryan, I’m ready to go!”
“Ok,” he replies emerging from the hallway with young August in his arms. “Have fun.” He kisses her and smiles his goodbye before turning back to the children. “Chloe, get in the shower, please.”
Chelsea makes her way to the front door, taking a moment to look at her phone. She starts her walk-to-run app and puts her headphones in. “Begin with a 5 minute warm up walk.” The woman’s voice instructs.
Chelsea opens the door and heads out into the cool air of this Arizona winter evening. Taking a moment to enjoy the wide open space of the outdoors, she takes a cleansing breath. It soon becomes a sigh of relief. A few minutes alone.
She crosses the lawn and makes a left at the sidewalk, stopping briefly to start her music. Heaven by One Republic begins. She quickens her pace to a brisk walk and focuses on the sound in her headphones, reveling in this time to recharge.
Chelsea and Ryan and their 4 children live in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. Right now it’s winter, the best time to be in this part of the world. People from all over north America travel here to get away from the snow that’s prevalent further north. It’s the ideal winter residence. The summer’s are tough, but winter in Arizona is a paradise.
Chelsea walks the tree lined streets, cool air filling her lungs as her heart rate starts to accelerate just slightly. She’s almost to the main road. Heaven ends. She’s feeling like something different would suit her mood tonight.
Feeling like Owl City, she starts Embers and starts jogging as the voice in her headphones says “Start running.”
She relishes in the feel of her feet pounding the pavement and her lungs breathing in and out. It’s felt so good to be running again, just like she always used to. She hopes this time she can stick to it.
It’s been a long couple years. Debilitating depression made life a living nightmare for so long, but things have gotten better. She notes with gratitude that this run is a symbol of how far she has come. The lyrics to her soundtrack match her mood and thoughts.
There were days, when each hour, was a war I fought to survive
There were nights, full of nightmares and I dreaded closing my eyes
Tears fill her eyes as the lyrics bring the pain of those dark times back to the forefront of her mind. Cool air rushes against her, a balm on her warming skin. She remembers the constant pain and distress, the hopelessness…
There were skies that burst open with a downpour to drown me alive
But the world took a spark like a match in the dark and the fire brought me to life
So I’m fanning the flames to climb so high ’cause there’s no other way we can stay alive
Chelsea’s pain turns to a fierce determination. She focuses on how much better things are now, even though they are still difficult. But I’ve come this far. I can keep going. She increases her pace, causing her lungs and legs to burn. She ignores the discomfort and pushes through.
And you’ll find, there’ll be mornings when the ashes and embers are cold
But you’ll fight with a passion and you’ll never stop cause you know
Yeah you know it gets better and your story is yet to be told
Every push, every shove, every war, every love
Yeah the coals are beginning to glow
The lyrics are just what she needs right now, to give her courage to go back home. Home to a family she loves more than anything, but feels more than inadequate to care for most days. Tears forms in her eyes once more, but she wills them away, and instead focuses on the passing palo verde trees and lantana shrubs that dot the edges of the sidewalk.
She turns down her music for a moment and offers a prayer in her mind. She prays in gratitude for how far she has come. She expresses thanks that she can run tonight and thanks for her family. She tearfully pours out her heart, sharing with her Father in Heaven how difficult this is and how much she needs His help. Closing her prayer, she feels a sense of calm and peace, knowing that she is not alone in this struggle.
Chelsea reaches the intersection and turns back around the way she came. “Slow and down and walk,” come the instructions from her running app. She gratefully slows her pace, breathing heavily.
25 minutes passes quickly, but it’s just the recharge she needed tonight. When she hears the final voice command to cool down with a 5 minute walk, her heart and mood feel lighter. She feels refreshed emotionally and ready return to the responsibilities at home.
As Chelsea approaches the house, she can see all the lights on and hear the sounds of children talking loudly. Ryan is still getting them all to bed, she notes. She almost loses her courage, as the weight of her responsibilities settles back onto her shoulders.
Taking a deep breath, and sending another prayer heavenward, she crosses the front lawn and takes the sidewalk up to the door. She opens it and is greeted by the happy voices of her children.
Chelsea smiles and hugs them in return.