Marilyn reckoned on loosing a few inches, then chucking it in when winter made running miserable. But the days were now short and she was still at it. She told friends she’d never felt better—all the fervour of a born-again exerciser.

But there was more to it. At first he’d streaked past her. She’d admired the lightness of his footfall. He hardly made a sound, his feet whipping under him, his feline shoulders oscillating beneath his t-shirt.

In time he disappeared in front of her less quickly when he passed. Her plodding gait transformed. Her rasping breath now even and easy. Her own footsteps no longer slap-slap-slapping on the pavement.

Until he barely outpaced her. She waited each morning—felt her heart quicken at the sound of his long stride.

Then, one morning, he relaxed his pace at her shoulder. ‘Morning.’

And all she could think was, is he talking to me. As if there was anyone else. She blushed and her efficient technique failed her. And in the time she took to recover he’d dashed ahead again.

Next morning she anticipated his approach, but only heard the clumsy feet of plodders as she glided past them.

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