John O’Connell woke up and shrugged the sheets off as he swung his legs over the side of his bed. He heard the sounds of Miriam cooking breakfast in the kitchen. He let her know he was awake and she helped him into the shower. After, she pulled his pants through each leg and fed him breakfast, eggs over easy, peanut butter and jelly toast, and a bowl of bran cereal. Miriam already had the newspaper laid out for John to read.
After breakfast, John told Miriam that he wanted to go on his daily run a little early today. Miriam just shrugged and said, “Okay.” She helped him out of his pants and into his running shorts, then tied his shoelaces for him while he stretched. Then she saw him out the door and told him not to be long.
The brisk autumn day made John start off at a speedy pace, anxious to get his blood pumping so he would warm up. His legs pumped as he sped up a hill, and spread out into long easy strides on the way down. He took each deep breath in time with his stride. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Like a castle of sand being washed away, all of John’s frustrations and pent-up rage eased from his mind. He was in control out here. this was his space. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
As he ran he passed a child climbing a tree. He was about six, and hung from a branch with his legs dangling. The two made eye contact and the child watched him with wide eyes. John didn’t stop, and kept running down the street. The child let go of the branch and landed in the soft grass. He watched John fade further into the distance.
He had never seen a man with no arms before.