His sharp breaths cut the early morning’s silence. Gulls cried in the mist. Water lapped gently against the piers as boats bobbed atop soft, rhythmic pulses. In the near distance the highway began to grumble and roar with tractor trailers — a snaking beast stirring to life. All around him the city emerged from its night.
One more block, he told himself. Then, one more, again. And again. He was lying every time, and he knew he was lying even as he said it.
His legs tired and tightened, reaching the end of their endurance. They hurt. He wanted to stop, but the stopping place wasn’t for another half-mile. So, he lied.
One more block, he thought. Just one more block, then we stop.
His right foot touched upon a warped, wooden pier, when a new thought appeared in his mind like a glowing seed.
If you’re lying, and you know you’re lying yet you keep believing the lie, then who is doing the lying, and who are you lying to?
It was a strange thought, but it struck him with a jolt. The city faded away until there was only the rhythm of his steps and his breathing.
He suddenly felt a stranger within himself. No, multiple strangers. Which mental voice was really him? Any? It should have been an unnerving thought, but it wasn’t. Something had loosened within him.
The pain evaporated. He ran smooth and easy across the pier, the thoughtless stillness that had started inside now expanding beyond his body. He was outside his head, now, embracing the sounds and sights of the city.
It was a brand new place, on a brand new day.