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Michael D. Warden

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The Runner
By Michael D. Warden
Saturday, June 19, 2004

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A metaphor of deliverance.

          His arms ached with etched red lines cut from the sharp-thorned shrillberry vines. But still his movements flowed like molten silver through the trees. It was dark now, of course. It was always dark in the wood. And every fluid sweep of his cloak roused the dank odor of the vines' rotted fruit.

          Runner couldn't see them in the distance anymore. But he knew they could still see him. In this dark place, his running dance shone forth like a rainbow at midnight. It couldn't be helped, he sighed. Life couldn't be denied its nature. And even though it meant he stood out like a single beacon on a hill of black ash, he could want it no other way. It was, after all, the very reason he ran. Life depended on it.

          A break came in the wood, though only for a moment, but it was enough to gain speed. He ran for the far line, and the wind ran with him. Behind him the distant voices of death still chased him--even from this distance their accusations were all too clear. But before him was only the dance--the running dance of the light of life. With his speed now topped, he swept into the far line. Without breaking stride, the trees and vines bowed left or right, but always away from the advancing rainbows. He would be free, he thought as he ran. Though it cost all he had, he would be free.

          And it did. Everything he had known as his life had to be sacrificed. But only now, at this strange time when he ran, did the full impact of his choice strike hard at his heart. He had been right, he knew it still. But oh the cost of life! The cost of life is grand indeed.

          Despite his speed, the accusers came on, sharp on the scent of his path to freedom. They would never understand, he realized. As long as I run, they will follow to kill. They will not see. They will not really see.

          With a circular sweep of his cloak, Runner engulfed himself in a dance of rainbows in the wood. The trees bowed low, not from fear it seemed, but from reverence for life. There was a spinning in colored hues, like the blur of lights on a Merry-go-round. Those who pursued saw the commotion, but charged on undaunted, staring with single-minded purpose at the rainbow whirlwind in the bowing wood.

          Then it was gone. And all that could be heard for hours to come were the distant, powerful strokes of an eagle's wings as he soared over the wood, and away to freedom.

          This, of course, the accusers never noticed.

          Perhaps they never will.

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