He’s gone running every morning since she died, in the woods that are supposed to be haunted. Throws on his clothes fast and out the door, before he can be discouraged by the weather, a trick she always teased him about, but it works. His footsteps on the gravel path echo off the low ceiling of oak as he passes, the echoes descending only after he’s moved on, sounding always like someone just behind him, running with him. A wooden post stands at the far end of the trail where the trees thin, remnant of a long-gone fence, so far away it is reduced to a shimmery dark figure of indeterminate height, and until he gets closer he’s always fooled into thinking someone is standing there watching him. He’s got to keep doing this, to stay fit. He puts all he’s got into it, tries not to think. A horse neighs. He’s not sure there are any horse pastures around, only forest that goes on for miles. She loved horses, rode when she still could. Right at this bend, ahead and to the right, he can see the signal light rising above the train track that runs parallel to the path for a while. It’s switched to red right now, saying Stop.
Rhonda Eikamp is originally from Texas and lives in Germany. Her short fiction has appeared in Birkensnake, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Lackington’s, among others. When not writing fiction, she translates for a German law firm. She jogs, occasionally, in woods that are not haunted, and blogs.
Lead image: “Tracks view” (via Flickr user Jakub Kocja)