Leo could not recall starting to run across the road. As if in a dream, or a nightmare, his awareness found him halfway to Precious as the old dog stood in the path of the Jeep.
Old humans should not be able to run as fast as they did when they were teenagers, competing in the mile or the cross-country races, not caring about winning or losing, joyfully losing their tormented adolescent self-consciousness in a flood of pain and endorphins. Old humans should be aware of the impact on their knee and ankle joints, should dial it back a bit, should keep a jot of self-consciousness in order to avoid injury.
Or just pulling something.
Leo, not exactly old but nearly four decades past his high school track career, happily ignored all this, and ran his heart out to get to Precious in time.
Never a sprinter, Leo had observed the coaches work with the short-distance runners enough to know that unlike the distance races, in a sprint you start all-out and run all-out until your quadriceps can no longer lift a foot off the track’s surface.
Time slowed as his running speed increased. It seemed he had hours before the Jeep and Precious would collide.
Then, in a blink, it was over.
The next sound Leo heard also moved into his awareness at its mid-point. Franny’s voice, yelling something.
He could not make out the words. Slowly his brain processed the sonic data and informed his awareness that the sound was coming from above him.
Unable to make sense of this, Leo shook his head, trying to clear the signals and start again.
Gravel ground into his hair and ears.
I’m on the pavement, he thought. His mind flashed back to the previous summer, finding Kassandra the barista in much the same position after he’d knocked her over with his bicycle. Wasn’t that the same night as the first time he and Franny had kissed?
“Hold still, idiot,” Franny’s voice cut through his flashback. “Hold still. I think you’ve knocked your noggin pretty well already. No need to make it worse.”
Sirens blared from a distance.
“Precious?” Leo asked, and could tell nothing from the answering expression on Franny’s face.