The Six Song Playlist
It took a while to pick the songs. Each had a special job and it had to be in the right order because the race had distinct parts. And she was superstitious; or at least as much as someone is when it's convenient.
She had registered for the race. It was the annual 4th of July race and it’s usually 90 something degrees but she’s ready. She handles heat well and has made a point to drink water daily, lots of it. She never thought she’d ever be a runner. That was what Craig was -“the runner.” He’d been a runner since age 6 when he was photographed crossing the finish line of the very race she was about to do, but he had come in first out of the 12 and under. “No small feat for sure” she said thinking it was funny because it was kind of a pun, but Craig didn't laugh until after the fact but by then they were already talking about his preference of sneakers. He was good. He’d been the star runner on his high school cross country team all four years breaking his personal bests each time and entering other races arranged by his coach and math teacher and winning a few of those too. Craig was good even though he didn’t look like a runner. Or what she thinks runners look like with their sinewy arms and tight hamstrings and carved out calves. They are strong looking but whittled down, or they can be, Craig had said when she pointed out that he looked more like a linebacker than anything. True, he was bigger than most but he was like a train motoring along his shorter legs going perhaps a half stride faster than the other contenders, the tall guys who stand at the finish line bending their legs like horses and taking little leaps back and forth. Strutting their stuff, she thought when she went to watch Craig race. Craig did what the other runners do, the ones who came to try to win a prize but weren’t comfortable with the guys in the side split shorts showing off practically everything to anyone who wanted to see. It made her uncomfortable, those runners with their package on display. She was grateful that Craig wore spandex under his shorts. He was just as fast in regular basketball shorts.
Craig was heavily recruited his junior year with scouts coming as far as Florida to see this guy who could run in the 15’s consistently. He picked a state school just wanting to say close to home, close to his family all runners. Craig wasn’t the kind of guy who dated only runners. He actually preferred the kind of girl who would fully support his running and not be a contender. Not that he had a ton of girlfriends. He was the kind of person who when not running or planning a run or reading about running was a homebody. His parents, gifted in the art of investments and business opportunities were well off and built what was called an in-law apartment but joked that it’s a kid club style apartment. When Kim saw it she was impressed that he could have his own space and not have to pay for it as well as have his mother do his laundry and cook his food but she was also a little judgmental, like how dependent he is, how childish. But Kim soon got used to coming over every day, parking her car and using the hidden key that was tucked under a statue of a duck. Got used to it feeling like it was their own place where she had a spot for her clothes and his shower had her shampoo and a razor and tampons stashed under the sink. They’d met right out of college, each graduating the same year each heading out to a new bar opening and waiting forever for that first drink and ended up talking. She wouldn’t be able to remember specifics, probably making fun of the opening of a bar, how there was such a big deal about it when really it was just the old bar with a new name or maybe a new wallpaper. People come to bars to drink. To be seen or to see other people and to get drunk perhaps. She recalls talking to him about how a bar is a place where a bunch of desperate people with addict potential go and try to have “a life” and “fun” when really they go home disappointed and stupid and end up with nothing but empty pockets and a massive hangover.
That night Kim ended up creating the hangover that wouldn’t quit. She slept in the doorway of his bathroom having puked several times throughout. She was embarrassed but Craig told her it was cool. That he did the same except in his wastebasket.