Sand ran barefoot down the street.The hot asphalt only spurred him on. His shoes hung round his neck, the laces tied together, bouncing on his thin chest. The air was heavy with invisible droplets of water, and as Sand ran he felt like he was cutting a swath through a sponge cake.
Houses flashed by, their windows shut tight against the humidity. The A/C units whirred, trying to outdo the mosquito’s buzzing. A few old people sat on porches, fanning their faces with cheap touristy hand-fans that their children brought them from the big cities when they came to visit. They watched Sand run past with interest, but forgot about him almost as soon as he was out of sight. People often forgot about Sand.
His sister, for instance. She was supposed to have picked him up from school and take him with her to visit their mother, but she hadn’t shown up. Sand had waited for an hour, after the school’s office had closed already. He didn’t have a cellphone since he’d accidentally dropped his in a toilet while being beaten up in the bathroom and his father had refused to buy him a new one. Sand hadn’t told him about getting beaten up, though. His father would have just looked disappointed that his kid didn’t know how to fight back and would have offered Sand, yet again, to spar with him at the boxing club.
But Sand preferred running. He loved outstripping his thoughts, slow and sluggish in the August heat. He loved the calluses that developed on his soles and toes, so hard that he could tap his nails against them and hear the same noise he got when tapping on the lids of the overstuffed Tupperware containers in the fridge. He loved not being able to distinguish one face from another because he was past them all so quickly. He could pretend that they talked about him once he was gone instead of forgetting.