Short Story Contest (159) - Theme: "Addiction" Congratulations @BookLover for your excellent story, "The Head of Hadley". Send me a PM with your theme for the next contest. And we'll use it in two weeks. @Wreybies will get your medal to you soon. Competition was tough again and I'm getting more and more impressed by the quality of entries we are getting in this contest. I haven't seen a bad story in a long time. Two stories tied for second place, "Gravity" by @BeckyJean and "Dark" by @Ben414 Thanks again to the other authors that entered and all the forum members who voted. _______________________________ The Head of Hadley [1124 words] Run. Go, go, go! It's almost 6:00A.M. Just two more miles. Then I can drink my protein shake. That's 160 more calories added to the banana and nuts this morning. Drink my protein shake. Shower. Do squats in the shower. Never stop moving. Never stop. Put on my Under Armour compression pants. My Nike sports bra. My Glyder tank. My New Balance shoes. Jog one mile to Norman's house. The key is under the knome. Walk Dusty the German Shephard. Run with Dusty. Run. Run. Run. A man whistles at me. Keep running. Run. Run. My phone is ringing. Unknown number. Don't answer. Keep running. Check messages. Jessica, my daughter. She's getting married. Inviting me to the wedding. We haven't talked in years. I didn't even know she had a boyfriend. Why would she invite me to the - Just run. Run. Dusty yelps. I ran too fast and choked him. That was mean of me. I'm a bad per – lunges. If he can't keep up, I'll do lunges. Lunge back to the house. Return Dusty. Next house. Three miles away. Mrs. Robin greets me at the door with her walker. “Hadley, I was just talking about you to my unemployed daughter. I told her the woman who walks my little Biggy has it all together. She has her own dog walking business, she's in shape, energetic, on time, happy. I mean look at you! You just have it all figured out, don't you?” “Yes. I do.” Take Biggy the Chihuahua to the next house. Pick up Priss the Pomeranian. Walk them together. They're slow. Do lunges. Lunge. Lunge. Stretches. Stretch. Stretch. They're so slow. Hop in place. Half hour gone. Bring them back.. Go home. Eat one hard boiled egg and a half cup of granola. Put in an Insanity video. A lot of jumping. Too much jumping. I see black spots. Falling. Regain consciousness. Eat a protein bar. My heart rate is too low now. I'll have to re-start the video. Don't pass out this time! Lots of jumping. It's over. I can feel the endorphins kick in! Bliss. Another protein shake. Lift weights. Bicep curls. Upright rows. Shoulder presses. Tricep extensions. Run to Arty the Cocker Spaniel's house. Walk Arty. He's old. Too slow. Do a burpee every time he stops. Bring him back. Go home. Jump rope for fifteen minutes. Eat some oatmeal and berries. Add up calories. Shower. Squats in the shower. Never stop moving. Put on dress pants for appointment. Cancel the appointment? No, I have to go. I already went through the consultation. I have to go but not wearing this. Change out of dress pants. Put on yoga pants. Put on Adidas sports bra. Put on Under Armour top that wicks away sweat. I'll run to the psychologist's. Clear my head before I clear my head. Run. Run. Run. On time. Greet Dr. Wyse. “Why don't you have a seat, Hadley?” “No, I don't sit.” “You don't sit?” “I never sit. You burn more calories standing.” “And is that important to you?” “Yes. It should be important to everyone. People are too sedentary.” I pace behind the couch. Dr. Wyse watches me. “Well, in our consultation, you mentioned you spend most of your day exercising, correct?” “Yes. I do.” “Then you've probably burned enough calories to afford to sit down for a minute, wouldn't you say?” “No.” “Why do you think you exercise so excessively?” “It's not excessive! I'm passionate. That's all. Passion is good, and exercise is good. More people should be passionate about their health.” “Well, I agree, but health encompasses more than just the physical body. What about your mental health? Also, is it really physically good for you to be exercising as much as you do? You mentioned that your toenails are turning blue.” “It happens to a lot of runners.” “But is that healthy? Do you really think you are acting in a healthy way?” “I'm healthier than anyone I know! Everyone envies me. Men stare at me, and women wish they could be me. I have visible abs, and just look at my arms! I'm strong, thin, and healthy. I don't know where you're going with this. Of course I'm healthy.” “I'm just asking questions. Let's try an exercise. A mental exercise. I want you to lay down on the couch for five minutes, in silence, and see how that feels.” “I don't lay down unless it's 9:00 PM. I fall asleep immediately at nine. At 5:00 AM I wake up immediately. That eight hour period is the only time when I stop moving.” “What would happen if you let yourself stop, though? Just for five minutes, on my couch?” “I don't know.” “Let's find out.” My heart accelerates. I lay down on the couch. “Now I won't say a word and neither will you. For five minutes.” My ankles twitch. I don't like this. Why would my daughter invite me to her wedding? She hates me. Her dad will probably be there. He'll definitely be there. He hates me. I cheated on him. Three times. That was after Toby died. That child never stopped crying. I shook him. I shook him. I shook him! He's dead because of me! I convinced everyone it was SIDS. I convinced my husband it was SIDS. He left me anyway. Because of the cheating. My ankles won't stop twitching. Why would Jessica invite me? I hit Jessica. I barely saw Jessica but when I did I was mean. She was such a pushy, outspoken child. She was always interrupting my workouts. I hit her. More than once. I was a bad mother. I am a bad mother. I am a bad person. I don't deserve to live. “No!” I stand up. “I'm not doing this! You're just jealous because you're fat and not in shape like me!” “Actually I am at the normal weight for my height. Why don't you sit back down, Hadley, and tell me what it was that bothered you about the stillness?” “No. I'm done. I don't know why I came here. I'm not sitting or lying. You don't know what it's like in my head! I can't take my thoughts! You don't know what it's like to be me! The exercise stops the thinking. When my body is worn out, I don't think anymore, and it's wonderful. I'm leaving. I don't need this! This hurts too much.” I march out the door to the elevator. Do stretches in the elevator. Biceps. Triceps. Quads. Calves. Stretch. The man next to me is looking me up and down. I look over at him. “You work out?” He grins. “Yes. I do.” The elevator opens. Run.