Dark. Again. Much darker than it had been at 6:50 a.m. two days ago. The windows in most of the houses were still black, and not even the neighborhood dogs were making much of a stir. Yet. Daylight savings throws everyone into jet lag. The perfect time for a morning workout. If you don't mind the dark. And the cold. And the silence.
It felt so early. Only three or four cars had passed, brights zoning through the moonless dark. Everything else was so still. And silent.
So I should have heard her before I saw her. It was early enough that any sound she made should have been amplified. And dark enough that I would have appreciated the forewarning sound. But she was wearing flat sandals.
So I saw her first. And that only because of how lightly she was dressed for the cold. Light capris and a light t shirt, with a backpack slung over one shoulder. Her long, bright blonde hair flew out behind her as she tore through the dimly lit church parking lot. At her rate of movement, she probably didn't even feel the cold, but I shivered just looking at her.
It threw me off a little. I didn't usually see another person on this route this early in the morning.
I know she saw me too. I was passing down the hill again, on the opposite side from her. Just walking.
She kept running down the hill.
I crossed the street to avoid a dog sniffing at a fire hydrant. The girl crossed the street to avoid me.
She stopped at a point where the hill leveled off at a four-way stop. I wouldn't have stopped. But then I saw her turn and greet a friend who was coming from one of the nearby houses. Similarly dressed. And I realized that, yes, the busses would still come at 7:00 in the morning, and that it was 6:50, even though it felt like 5:50.
The blonde girl waited for her friend under the golden glow of one of the few street lamps. When her friend joined her, they continued on at a leisurely walk. Their girlish laughter sounded abrupt and alien in the early morning as they padded down the hill to their stop, away from me.
High school. I remembered those days. Running from my house without breakfast to make sure I didn't just miss the buss's red back lights as it disappeared without me. Waiting for the bus in the cold. And the dark.
So dark. So cold. So still. And yet, still 7:00 in the morning. And if that was true, I realized, the blonde girl wasn't the only one running late.