There was something beautiful about New York City in the summer. In the middle of a heat wave people sat in parks, drank from dirty water fountains, stood in line at the ice cream truck. The air sizzled over the sidewalks and seemed to settle on skin and stay there. Rashad had a lot of good memories of being young and in love in this city in the summer. This heat wave was breaking records, people were urged to stay indoors, check on seniors, spend time in areas that had air conditioning but Rashad was jogging, sprinting really, in Central Park. People sitting on park benches looked at him like he was crazy. The air was so thick it was difficult to breathe but he kept going, he ran faster. He wanted to shut his mind off.
Rania was getting married today. Somewhere in Philadelphia, she was putting on her wedding dress, getting her hair done, huddling with her bridesmaids before she walked down the aisle to the groom waiting for her. A groom that wasn’t Rashad. The only reason he even heard about the wedding was because his sister was there. Aisha had stayed friends with Rania even through all the drama. When the invitation came in the mail she FaceTimed him, held up the invitation and asked if it would be right if she went. Rashad tried to act like he didn’t care, but to hear his ex girlfriend was getting married and invited his sister was a lot to take in, maybe a little too much. He told Aisha to go, to give Rania and her fiancé his good wishes and to take a lot of photos.
He ran faster, checking his iPhone for the time. 11am. The wedding started in half an hour. It had been over a year since Rania left him for good. On most days he didn’t think about her. His career was doing well, he was constantly busy, he had accepted the fact that he loved her and lost her. But this was her wedding day. This was proof that there was absolutely no chance that he’d ever get her back.
His high-rise apartment building came in to view. He moved there after Rania moved out of the apartment they shared. There was no way he could stay in that apartment that held so many memories. Now he lived in the Upper East Side in a swanky place that was more than double the size of his old apartment. Instead of finishing up his run and heading home, he made a sharp turn, running deeper in to the park. His ankles were starting to throb. When Rania was living with him she’d force him to sit down on the couch, he’d put his legs over her lap and she would ice his ankles. He’d either watch the news or fall asleep with her hand lightly stroking his leg. If she were annoyed with him, she’d barely look up from her laptop when he’d get home. Near the end of their relationship, she was miserable. She’s pick fights with him, her eyes accusing as if it was all his fault. There were days she’d disappear and ignore his calls, causing him to go to Flushing in Queens to find her at her Dad’s house and beg her to come home. He didn’t know why she was unhappy and he figured she didn’t know why either since she could never tell him when he asked her.
The humid air seemed to close in around his throat and squeeze. Rashad stopped abruptly, hurried over to a deserted piece of grass and vomited up the banana he ate before he stepped out of his apartment. The force of his heaves was so strong he fell to his knees.
This run was over.