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Story by Glenn Shaheen (Read author interview) March 26, 2013

art by Carrie Wells

The other day I was running at a track that loops around the private university in town. I’ve been trying to keep my heart rate in optimal range. This woman in front of me was running while pushing her baby in one of those running carriages. Her baby threw its pacifier out of the carriage and it landed on the ground in front of me. I almost picked it up, but I would’ve had to stop, and I was at my optimal heart rate. Plus, what if she got crazy about some stranger germing up her kid’s pacifier. I ran by. I have been getting stronger and faster. When running I try to keep my breathing steady because somebody once told me we each have a certain number of breaths allotted to us from birth. Sure, it’s dumb, but we can’t help the traps we fall into. I run four times a week. On one side of the university there are lush trees and rows of McMansions. On the other side they are building many towering hospitals. Giant cranes frame the sky. A worker fell to his death from one on a day I don’t run. Each crane hovers over the skeletal beginnings of hospitals designed by architects to look organic and welcoming. When I see a pigeon dart out in front of me while I run I am still astonished by the beautiful and intricate patterns on its back, and these are just the birds we all call sky rats.

About the Author

Glenn Shaheen is the author of the poetry collections Predatory (U of Pitt Press, 2011), and Energy Corridor (U of Pitt Press, 2016), and the flash fiction chapbook Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, 2013). Individual pieces have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, and elsewhere.

About the Artist

Carrie Wells is an artist working in the mediums of photography and sculpture. She earned her BFA in Studio Art from The University of Texas at Austin and continues to live and work in Austin, Texas.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-Nine of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Nine

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