IN THE END she didn’t leave the city. She took a job as a ■■■■■■■■■■ because it was the only thing she knew how to do. She made many things that were functional but unbeautiful. She wondered if she would ever make something of her own, something to communicate.

Everyone she met was lonely. At work they came in at odd hours and left secret notes around, hoping someone would see. She put the notes back exactly where she found them.

In the evenings she walked for hours. Once she walked far past the end of the lake, along the canal that connected it to the ocean. She saw the double grilles that kept everything but the water from floating past the freeway. She turned away from the canal and started back towards downtown. The sun was about to set, and across the freeway she saw it gleaming on the tall buildings.

She saw a cat escape from the pet hotel. She saw a woman waiting in her car by the dojo. She saw a bunch of boys playing basketball inside. The sun had just set, but downtown it had been dark for longer. There were no stars. She stopped at a cafe and had some water. Then she went home to people.

In the end she moved back to the valley where she was born.  From the edge of town, a few minutes from home, she could see more than fifty miles to the mountains in the west and east.  In the summer she began to run again.  It was very hot during the day, so when she didn’t get up early she went around sunset.  It was easy to get onto the farm roads by stepping over a broken fence.  Many of the fields appeared empty, but many others had young tomatoes or fruit trees.  Mostly, the beauty of the land made up for the ugliness of running, but once or twice she pushed aside something and felt the beauty even more as a moving animal.  Then, the pain in her chest and legs, the heat and dust still rising from the ground, all were pleasure.   After the sun was gone for her it gleamed for awhile on the tall buildings in the city, twenty miles away.  When it set for them too, she rested.  The stars appeared and a breeze came to cool her face.