The North­ern Run­ner Front Win­dow


Runner's World South Africa - - CONTENTS - BY LISA ABDELLAH

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.

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