"Finally, caught up with you!" he says, laughing, as he rollerblades by.
Through panted breaths, I laugh with him, squinting under the brilliant azure of the afternoon sky.
Swish. Swish. Swish. Arms swinging smoothly. Then he is gone, lost in the distance. The sun obscuring my vision.
He was being kind. Yesterday, I went for my first run of the spring season. I am not a natural runner under the best of conditions, so the first time is always really tough for me. I was running really slow, and labouring pretty hard when he passed me. I was ready to quit.
His words of encouragement spurred me on. I pushed on for a few extra painful minutes, before stopping satisfied and proud of myself.
It reminded me of something that happened to this guy I knew a few years ago. I wouldn't call him a friend now, but he was then. He was a friend in the way that people who enable each other are friends. We partied pretty hard together. He was part of a group of friends on a downward spiral. A few of us made the choice to stop and move forward. A few of us didn't. They are lost forever.
Back then, it was just about the party. We were dabbling, being rebellious, having fun. Except him. He was a hard case. There was a darkness and sadness in him that we couldn't touch. He was always in a drug-fuelled state of depression or anger, running desperately from himself. At one point, he sunk so low, that he decided to kill himself. The only thing that stopped him, were the words of a stranger.
He walked into a convenience store to buy smokes, and the clerk behind the counter looked at him, and said, "today, the sun shines only for you." I don't know why he said this. Perhaps he could sense his despair.
Words. They make a difference.