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I’M RUNNING. It’s only the second week of May, and already, the heat is getting oppressive. It’s supposed to be ninety by noon and climbing. The weather forecast said we might break a record today. I’m wearing nothing but my running shoes, a pair of low-cut socks and red athletic shorts, yet I feel like the heat has fallen on me like a wet blanket. I shouldn’t have gotten drunk last night, should have got a better night’s sleep. I should have done a lot of things different. I’m thinking, maybe I shouldn’t have joined a fraternity.

Running up Caddo Hill, the steepest hill in Weatherford, Oklahoma, and my lungs are burning, sweat pouring down my face, stinging my eyes. The air is uncharacteristically calm, and for the first time in a long time I get off my pace, start dragging my feet. I can hear the souls of my shoes sticking to the asphalt, and I’m thinking about walking the last mile of my planned course when I see a white and pink Suzuki Samurai cresting the hill. I recognize the driver, Holly Holcomb.

I’m surprised when Holly slows down, edging her Samurai toward my side of the road. She has some music playing real loud, Under Pressure by that guy from Queen and David Bowie.

“You look hot,” she says.

She’s doesn’t sound turned on, just concerned. I stop running and walk toward her, grateful for the excuse to rest. I get a stitch of pain in my right side and want to lean forward, hands on my knees, but I don’t want to appear weak. Instead, I put my hands behind my head and arch backwards, flexing my abdominal muscles, showing off my trim waist. I stop a few feet from the Samurai when I get a whiff of my overwhelming odor.

“You sure do run a lot,” Holly says.

“Yep,” I reply. I’m trying to suppress my labored breathing. “I run… ev-ry day.”
Holly smiles. She has clean, even teeth, bright white. Her lips are full but not thick, perfect. I like the way she pulls her hair back into a bushy ponytail and the way she ties a blue scarf in a knot, like Madonna. She’s wearing a tank top with thin, white shoulder straps plunging toward her breasts. She turns toward me, her right breast nudging the steering wheel.

“You want some water?”

I can only nod. She tosses me a bottle of cold water she gets from a cooler in her back seat. I open the bottle and drink gratefully.

“I really admire your commitment,” Holly says. “What you did last night took some courage.”

Yeah, last night, I’m thinking. Shit, last night…

I was getting ready for work when Mick and Jimmy got back from Juarez. They left last Tuesday afternoon just after finishing their final exams, bragging about going on a road trip to blow off some steam, to get laid. The guys had gathered on the expansive front porch of the Phi Delta Phi House, a large two-story house with red bricks and white trim a block south of campus. They greeted our prodigal brothers with a twelve pack of Schafer’s beer. God, Schafer’s beer, the guys must be low on money to be drinking that cheap shit.

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About Paula Sophia Schonauer

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Paula Sophia Schonauer likes to ride motorcycles, trying to find Zen on the back roads of Oklahoma. She almost made it once, but a curve threw her off balance.

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