Flash Fiction: The Fourth Movement

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by LJ Frank

A quiet, cloudy night was clear by morning as a breeze swept across the blue-green straits. The wood shutters on the cottage creaked, opening, and closing with each gust. Branches on the lofty Eastern white pines swayed with their fragrance seeping into his room through a window that was ajar.  

By 7:30 am he would begin his run on a narrow, paved coastline path. His neighbor would begin making her coffee and watch him run from the distance of her kitchen window. She wondered about his life. What mattered she thought was the man seemed to have a routine and was doing his best to survive and just be and enjoy his classical music that occasionally emanated through his open windows.

As his shoes struck the pavement, his hair tossed by the breeze, arms in rhythm with his legs, breathing synchronized, the theater of his imagination was at times nuanced and subtle, a balance of the linear and non-linear. His life was complex at times beckoning him to keep moving to envision what he might experience or view differently in the landscape in front of him.  

He ran the same route everyday back and forth. The distance didn’t matter but rather the tone it set for the day. He cherished the seeming order of it, though to another it might appear monotonous. It wasn’t to him. It was like the symphony that he began composing during his college days. He expended hours replaying it in his head. Yet after a few movements for whatever reason he merely starred at the scattered musical notes lying here and there around his room and shook his head, his eyes moist with tears, he cried. “Stay focused on survival,” he beseeched his heart, and moved on.

One morning as he breathed in and breathed out with each pace, he could hear the breathing of someone behind him approaching. He turned and noticed it was his neighbor. He’d only met her when she moved in and another time at the local grocery store. 

Good morning,” she said with a smile.

“I didn’t know you were a runner.”

“I’m not. But you know the old saying about the first time.”

“You’re welcome to run with me.”

“Thank you. You like running slow.”

“What’s the hurry?” He then changed the subject. “Now that you’ve lived here for a month or so. How do you like it?”

 “I like it. But…you should know something.”

“What’s that?”

“I’ve probably been with you longer than you know.”

“What do you mean.” 

They both slowed to a stop and looked into each other’s eyes.

“Don’t you recognize me?”

“You’re my neighbor who moved into the cottage next to mine.”

“Did a little deeper into your past, years ago, a time when you were caught up in your studies, and one day you raised your head with eyes gazing into the distance, and now look at me again. I have shorter hair now.”

Perhaps she did look vaguely familiar. 

She placed her hand on his cheek and said in a voice just above a whisper, “I’m The Fourth Movement.”