I saw him again, today, the boy in the blue trench coat. He is probably fifteen or sixteen-years-old. He had on a camouflage hunter’s cap, the kind with flaps that lay over the ears.
The coat wasn’t purchased for him, evident from its enormous size—the way the epaulet straps extended over his arms. The way the sleeves hanged and the amount they bunched around the outsides of the pockets his hands were shoved into. The belt was knotted and cinched at the waist—although it was not purchased for him, he owned it now.
The boy’s chin was down, at a slightly descending angle. His eyes fixed to a few paces ahead. His shoulders rigid and pulled forward as if he were heading into a bitter wind or combat.
I was in the student loading and unloading zone at the school. My son had exited. The line of cars behind me swelled, urging me to move on. The boy went by me in a flash. It wasn’t the first time he had.
I’d seen the kid a few days ago. I was driving to pick my son up after school. My daughter was with me, and so was my dog. I was late. The stoplights were off forcing me to stop and start, stop and start, and then wait some more. It was cold. The sun was out.
In the distance, I saw a figure in a long dark coat sprinting through a field. The snow was deep. White ice like frosted glass coated the roads and sidewalks and he ran in the opposite direction.
We arrived at the school. We picked up my son, and we headed towards home. After a few miles, I saw the boy in the blue trench coat out of the corner of my eye, still sprinting, still speeding as if he had all the energy, and the air and ability in the world.
He dashed along a hilly trail that wove in and out next to the road. He ran and ran, fast and hard.
Gray jogging pants hanged below the coat hem grazing his calves. He wore tennis shoes. Bright red ears poked out on either side of his head. His hair was brown, crew cut on the sides and back and kept long on top. Loose strands jumped and bounced with each of his steps.
As we passed, I glanced in the rearview mirror. White puffed from his mouth making him look like a steam engine. His cheeks blotched ruddy. A giant smile spread wide across his face. He was running. He was running and fearless and constant. He was inspiration. He was music and poetry.
At the stoplight, the green arrow signaled us to turn left. The boy continued on the path that dodged to the right and disappeared.
I saw the boy in the navy blue trench coat, this morning, before the sun was fully up, among the swarm of teenagers wiping the sleep from their eyes, staggering into the orange brick building where school was to begin. He was different from the first time I saw him. He was drawn into himself. He was ready for a day of battle.
I wished they could see him, the way he was a few days ago, sprinting through the frozen world, speeding past the broken world, pushing beyond the humdrum, the teenaged politics, the dread of another day. Because if they saw him when he ran, it would change their lives forever.