Britney Spears is blasting in my ears telling me that I need to work bitch, but my thighs are burning and I can’t breathe. I can literally feel the bounce of my ass with each stride on the pavement. Sweat is pouring down my face and back, and I wanted to give up four minutes ago. But I keep on pushing as I visualize the wedding dress I need to fit into this spring.
I never thought I’d want a big fancy wedding, but it’s important to Teddy. He says he wants to give me a fairy tale, and I can’t say that didn’t melt my resolve a little. Having the man you love, the man of your dreams, say he wants to dress you up and show you off to the whole town is pretty special.
Why doesn’t anyone talk about boob sweat? I’ve got on a bra with a sports bra over the top of it, and I’m still jiggling. I’m not the right size to be a runner, but I keep thinking this is what fit people do.
Teddy would be pissed if he knew I was out here on the trail alone. The sun isn’t even up yet, but it’s summertime in Florida, and I’ve got to do it before it’s a thousand degrees outside. It’s not even six a.m. and I’m already drenched.
My thighs rub together and I know it’s going to burn later when I get in the shower. God, I’m exhausted, but I’m so close to being finished.
“Wedding dress, wedding dress, wedding dress,” I chant to myself as Eminem tells me to lose myself.
The park is pretty well lit, and it’s close to the highway. There’s a perimeter loop trail that’s only partially in the woods, so for the most part, I’ve got a visual of everything around me. I can see the parking lot in the distance and as soon as I hit that, I can stop. The last part of the trail is covered in trees and the shaded canopy provides a cool-down right before I reach my car.
Even the faded light from the sunrise darkens as I enter the woods, and the cool, crisp smell of morning fills my tired lungs. Relief is so close, and I push my shaking legs to sprint the last of the trail, trying desperately to end this fresh hell I’ve chosen to put my body through.
It’s taken every ounce of strength in me to get to this point, and I’m so close I can almost taste the celebratory latte I’m going to get on the way home.
But I don’t make it.
The earbuds, cranked as loud as they can go, drown out the sound of the man coming up behind me. I didn’t hear his grunts or heavy footfalls as he came after me. The focus I had on my car up ahead distracted me from noticing the second car in the parking lot. My sore body was my sole focus as big strong arms wrapped around me.
My feet leave the ground as air is squeezed from my lungs. At first I’m shocked, but then panic registers immediately. I don’t have breath to scream, and just as I try to inhale, a hand clamps over my mouth.
I’m wrestled off the trail as my tired legs kick and twist and my arms fight uselessly at my sides. I try to call on all those serial killer documentaries I’m obsessed with to think of what to do next. I know I can’t go to a second location, and while terror and adrenaline are pumping through my veins, I try to focus.
My cries against his hand are completely useless, and it’s not like I have the breath to do it any louder. I’m exhausted from my run, but I’m covered in sweat and try to use that to my advantage.
Turning my face from side to side I try to bite the man’s hand. My earbuds have come out and now the only sound I can hear is his heavy breathing.
“Quit that,” he growls in my ear, his voice so deep it causes me to freeze.
I look around and notice he’s got me off on the side of the trail, just at the edge of the woods. I’m not a big girl by any means, and this guy has got me a good two feet off the ground. My kicks are useless as he continues to walk me towards the trees, and my brain blanks on what to do next. Am I supposed to conserve my energy for an escape, or do I fight right now? Everything I swore I would remember if something like this happened is gone and now I don’t know what the hell to do.
The thick evergreens are still dark in the early hours, and as he carries me into them chills break out across my arms.