The Northern Runner Front Window
THE WILD SPECULATIONS OF AN INJURED RUNNER WITH TOO MUCH FREE TIME ON HER HANDS.
A RUNNING INJURY can happen in an instant; such is the downright injustice of it. Mine happened when I was running along the Promenade, and a toddler riding a tricycle came zig-zagging towards me. Using only her tiny feet, she pushed that thing along the ground like her young life depended on it.
And she looked at me with unblinking eyes.
Of course, I tripped over her tricycle and landed awkwardly on my ankle. She survived the collision unscathed.
After my physiotherapist had declared me injured, he uttered the worst phrase known to running-kind: “You. Can’t. Run.”
But this isn’t your average injury story; rather, it’s a tale with a twist that starts with a twisted ankle.
The problem with not being able to run is that you have so much free time. I was confined to my flat, my dodgy ankle propped up on a pillow and a bag of frozen peas wrapped around it for the swelling.
So far, I’d had a two-day hiatus from running. I agonised over how much my performance had probably slumped during that time; and how much it would continue to diminish during running’s indefinite absence from my life.
In order to distract myself, I hobbled over to the front window of my flat. It looks out onto a street, lined with other peoples’ homes. I observed doctors, artists, teachers, toddlers (of course) – and my neighbour’s cat.
Worst of all, there were runners. Running.
Every evening, Bob and Mandy Hitchcock from across the road emerged from their front door, adjusted their pace watches and bounded away. They always looked sickeningly smug about the fact that they could run.
Then a thunderstorm changed everything.
That evening I saw Bob and Mandy return from their run, drenched from head to toe. And having a lovers’ tiff, by the look of it. I could hear Bob shouting. “Admit it! The fact that I’m faster than you bothers you so much, you purposely dragged me out running during a monsoon – hoping you’d sideline the competition in our next race with a nasty bout of man flu!”
And with that, Bob flounced indoors. Closely followed by Mandy.
Later that evening, Mandy came out of the house carrying two bulging garbage bags, and tossed them into the bin.
The following morning, Mandy went running... alone. And when she returned, I saw her through her kitchen window – cleaning a large knife. In the afternoon she left the house, threw an enormous gym bag in the boot of her car and drove away.
There was still no sign of Bob. In light of the evidence, I could only assume that Mandy had murdered him.
Concerned, I sent my husband to do some digging.
“Nothing untoward in Mandy’s bin,” he reported back. “The only thing she’s guilty of is recycling.”
She’s obviously already disposed of the body, in her gym bag, I thought. But what did she do with the knife?
Cautiously, I peered down at Mandy’s kitchen window. There she was – cleaning that knife again.
Who is she planning to bump off next? I wondered.
In that moment, Mandy spotted me. Her eyes narrowed, unblinking as a tricycle-riding toddler’s.
I gasped, and limped away from the window as quickly as I could, to hide under the dining-room table. For the next half an hour, all I could hear was silence. A deathly silence.
Then – a knock at the door. “Don’t answer it!” I cried out in horror, as my husband crossed the room. But it was too late.
“It’s Bob and Mandy!” he beamed. I came out from under the table, staring at Bob in disbelief. “B-B-Bob! I thought you were d-d-d… gone!”
“Just for a day,” Bob explained. “Business trip.”
I switched my gaze to Mandy. There was no sign of the knife; in fact, she was holding… a pie.
“I heard you’re injured,” she explained, offering the pastry. “I thought this would cheer you up!”
I looked at it suspiciously. And I had to ask: “What happened to the cat?”
Lisa abdeLLah is a badass runner in the morning, a freelance journalist by day, and at night she likes to think she’s a wine connoisseur.