Last Friday marked the end of the semester, making today, Monday, my first chance to sleep in. I choose to run instead. I tell my friends that I won’t be able to walk with them because I’m going to get up and run at 5:30 am. (No one offers to join me). I go to bed with my running clothes and shoes set out for my early morning.
It’s near dawn and I’m jogging up the hill that passes the Oriental church. The star on the chapel is lit, the gate is open, and hundreds of dark haired, tiny people watch me pass. Why are they worshipping so early in the morning? Why are they staring at me?
I realize I’m naked.
I duck into the bushes, disturbing birds who call out, drawing more unwanted attention. There’s dirt between my toes. Branches and bushes scratch me. I decide that rather than taking the sidewalk, I’ll take a short-cut through my neighbor’s house. I hoist over their fence and crawl in their window.
At this point, my intellect weighs in on the unlikely situation. I must be asleep. Running naked? Crawling through windows? I touch my chest and feel my silky pajamas, but when I look down I see skin. Lots of skin.
My neighbors house is messy but quiet. I trip over things on my way to the front door. Soon, I’m on the sidewalk on Sembrado Street. I can see my house. I’m running fast, but time slows. I’ll never make it. I realize I will be running in slow motion when the neighbors get in their cars for work, when the children, carrying backpacks, will head for kindergarten, and when the teenagers, carrying cell phones with cameras, will leave for high school. They will take photos and videos.
I imagine my naked self on You-tube and Facebook, running, but never arriving.
I wake, sweating. It’s close to seven. I’m wearing silky pajamas. Down the hall, my daughter is showering. Outside my door, my dog is scratching. My husband is brushing his teeth.
All around me, life carries on in its normalcy and I realize that self-publishing is like running naked in a parallel universe. My novel-- it’s not real, it’s fiction--but it’s still a part of me. A part that I’m going to share with the world.
And there I’ll be, exposed, warts, hairy moles, saggy skin and all.