4.2

Sarah slowed the world down, or sped herself up, depending, until she could see the open highway ahead of her. She stopped, and then glanced at her watch.

“Allright, let’s do this.” She seemed to be talking to herself quite a bit, lately.

She ran the 18 miles to Beagle River in about 3 minutes.

It felt like running for 3 minutes. Which meant that her out of shape flabby body was out of breath and tired in the first 30 seconds or so.

The world slowly drifted by her, but the scenery moved as if on a crazy timeline of its own. THERE was the off-ramp a mile from the start of her jog, THERE was the five mile mark, THERE was the beginning of Bagle River, a suburb of Anchorage. The jerky movement of …time? space? she didn’t know…was hard to get a grip on, mentally. She settled on her Tivo metaphor and figured she was on the triple speed fast forward. Going fast, but hard to figure out when to hit the Play button.

She stopped by the side of the road at the end of the Hiland Loop offramp. Breathing hard, cramping in her stomach and legs, she stood still, letting the world jerk back into realtime. A car approached to make a right off the freeway. The driver spared her a glance, and rolled through the stopsign. It was like he hadn’t seen her at all.

She suddenly grasped her stomach and fell to the ground. The intense pain hit her like a battering ram to the midsection. “Aw, fuck,” she thought, doubling over in waves of pain, “what the hell!??”

Her mind cleared enough during the lull of one of the waves that she realized that she was…HUNGRY. Not just man-i’d-dog-a-hot-dog hungry, but I-haven’t-eaten-for-a-fucking-week hungry. But she had just eaten. And then saw a man…strike that, killed a man. How could she be hungry?

It didn’t seem to matter that the logic was flawed; her stomach continued to assault her with hunger pangs more intense than any she’d ever had in. her. life.

SHe looked across the street and thankfully saw a McDonald’s, it’s shiny greasy arches beckoning to her from across the road. She somehow straightened out and walked slowly, as if in great pain, across to the fast food restaurant.

Once inside, she pulled off her mittens and hat, and opened her coat a bit. She was hot from the 3 minutes of unfamiliar exercise, and the Mickey D’s was hot from all the luscious, greasy, sexy food behind the counter.

She shuffled up to the register.

“I’ll take 3 Quarter Pounder meals.” She assessed her hunger again, willing herself to remain upright. The kid behind the counter looked at her funny, whether at her strange half-bent, half-ramrod straight posture, or the big order, she wasn’t sure.

“And four apple pies, and three double cheesburgers.”

He stared at her. She stared back, daring him to say anything. She knew he wasn’t supposed to laugh at the fat people who ordered huge meals.

But she wasn’t that huge. She let him wonder where her companions were, paid for the meal, and grabbed the tray (“for here”).

She found the corner booth in the kid play lounge. It was SUnday morning, so not too many rugrats in here, yet. She scarfed two quarter pounders and a double cheese before the hunger began to abate. She took that opportunity to get up and fill a plastic cup with diet, no REAL coke.

“goddamn who cares,” she thought. “I just ran from Anchorage.”

Sitting back with the rest of her quickly consumed meal, she leaned back. She didn’t feel full, exactly, but at least it wasn’t a painful thing to remain unbent at the middle.

Sarah looked to her left, and saw a pair of toddlers staring at her. The crazy lady with the wild curly blonde hair, the chubby cheeks, the old jacket, hat and mittens. Beagle River must not get it’s share of homeless people, since the toddlers looked on with what might have been awe, or might have been deer-in-the-headlights fear.

“Anton! Julia! come back here! Leave the …nice… lady alone!” Their mother hustled them back to the other side of the play place.

Sarah Juneau sighed, got up, emptied her tray into the trash, and put on her outerwear again. “Time to run home real quick,” she thought, and didn’t bother to stifle the giggles.

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