he rarely went running. he tended more to quiet, to calm, to cunning. to cool. he was warm now. he worked to find and feel the ground, fend off feeling far afool.
he’d bent his bolt to branch-beneath, night grown on wide; the water whispered it would welcome him and hide his hounded head awhile, a moment, a moonlit midnight mile between the spring and lake. they’d guess this for the path he’d take, if they were warned; soon enough, at least, at last, he’d learn if he were scorned as sour as he sure enough supposed. he stepped into the stream, slid, ducked, and water closed his eyes.
over the rise they rushed and raced, equally spaced, synchronous and salivating. they were trim and tight tonight. feeling fine. no lines, no waiting. their eyes, all ranged from brown to green, were sharp and bright with burnished sheen.
they gathered on the bank, and barked rough orders and responses. six split off, three north, three south; the other settled on his haunches, turned his eyes streamward, counted. seven breaths, she’d said, would be enough to call him sur[ely]mounted.
at six and an inhale the surface was shattered. he stood, saw who waited, saw the others had scattered. “Helen, then, was it?” he said, as if it mattered.