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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall Back by Rekha Ambardar

Kaitlin’s gaze landed on the VCR to see if the computer chip inside had set the clock back. It had. Somehow it reminded her of sneaking up to the tree on Christmas Eve to see if there were any presents there yet.

The computer had done its job, now she’d have to go around the house changing all the other clocks manually.

She could either sleep an extra hour or go for a morning run and feel virtuous after that. She waited for a sign to help her make up her mind. Seeing none, she reluctantly got out of bed and peered out the window. It was a bright, gorgeous day. No excuse for not going out for a jog. Kaitlin pulled on her sweatsuit and running shoes and drove to Glendale Park, a favorite venue of walkers, bikers, dog walkers, and amblers in no particular hurry.

She parked and skirted the lovely, white Victorian building, which housed Bel Cibo, an Italian restaurant, that was probably serving brunch. The name meant “beautiful food” and people in their Sunday best were already sauntering toward the entrance.

Feeling unkempt in her sweatsuit, she decided to do a few runs up and down the stone steps that led to a terrace behind the restaurant. Five runs and that would be it for the day.

Halfway up her run, a well-built young man in a jogging suit ran lightly down the steps. They nodded at one another and moved on. Kaitlin concentrated on her run.

Finally she reached the top. She took a few deep breaths and enjoyed the view of the lake in the foreground. Time to take a reverse turn down the steps, she reminded herself.

Going down was a breeze and she enjoyed every moment of it. Midway she met the guy running in the opposite direction this time. She noted he ran up the steps with great ease and grace.

This time, he smiled, and she smiled back. How long do we have to keep this up? She thought. She toyed with the idea of choosing a different spot for her run, but she was curious to see how long the nice-looking guy would keep it up.

She braced herself for the jog up the steps. But the anticipation at seeing him again gave the prospect an extra zing.

When they met again halfway, he stopped. “Look, we have to stop meeting like this. Do you mind if I run up with you? My name is Steve, by the way."

“Kaitlin,” she said with a smile. “I don’t mind at all. I’d like the company.”

As they ran up, he slowed to keep in step with Kaitlin and she felt a surge of warmth at his thoughtfulness.

When they reached the top, they stopped to catch their breath and enjoy the view.

“Not many people would be out running today,” Steve said. “They’re smarter, probably sleeping in.”

“That was a real temptation,” Kaitlin agreed. “But the weather was so good I had to get out.” She nodded toward the restaurant. “With people going in and out, I thought running up and down the steps would be less awkward for me.”

“I usually go to the gym everyday, but today called for a special experience and I’m glad I took it,” Steve said.
<> A delicious aroma wafted out from the restaurant. He glanced in its direction and said, “I haven’t eaten and I’m famished. What say we finish the run, go home, get cleaned up and come back here for brunch?”

“That’s a great idea. My refrigerator is practically empty so your idea sounds perfect.” Kaitlin replied.

“Hope you like Italian food,” Steve said.

“I do, and I like preparing it, too.”

“I’m no mean cook of Italian food either,” Steve said with a chuckle. “At least when it comes out right.”

They did a couple more runs up and down and then headed toward their parked cars. The walkers, runners, and amblers had thinned out.

Kaitlin opened her car door. “I’ll meet you back here in half an hour?”

“That would be great. And then we could really get acquainted,” Steve said as he raised his hand to wave.

As she pulled out, Kaitlin felt a lift in her mood. Would they have anything more in common besides running and a liking for Italian food? This was one time she didn’t want to know the answer to that question. She wanted the pleasure of finding out for herself.

BIO: Rekha Ambardar has published over eighty short stories, articles, and essays in print and electronic magazines, including The Long and the Short of It, The Writer’s Journal, ByLine, The Indian Express, and Writing Her mysteries have been published in Futures, Nefarious, The Gumshoe Review, Orchard Mystery Press, Shots in the Dark and other anthologies.

She is a regular contributor to The World and I Online, a subsidiary of The Washington Times, and has published articles on topics of current interest and concern.

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