She lifts her skirt up to her knees and walks through the garden rows with her bare feet, laughing. I follow as best I can with my halting gait and complication of Lofstrand crutches. She moves freely, unencumbered by pain and weakness: a small hop over the strawberry plants, vibrant red fruit peeking out of the lush dark green leaves contrasting exquisitely with the pale yellow skirt. She sprints up one row, grass and dew flinging behind her in burst of beautiful life, and I trundle along like a drunken bug caught in the windy wake of some passing car, caught as an archaic broken thing in the tumult of modernity.
Paused at the top of the row, a hundred feet away, she might as well be on another world. Where she can go in a ten seconds I will eventually reach in a few minutes. Her passage is a streaking comet; mine a planet in slow and steady circumspection. We will both see the same row of strawberries. She will remember it in a brief splash of color. I will remember how the plants were lush and full, low to the cool brown dirt as they heaved leaves, fruit and flowers into a fat circle of sweet life. The beetle crossing my path and my careful placement of my crutch to avoid the glossy black back will be a part of my strawberry row memory. The way the dew beaded on the fruit and leaves and how brushing the leaves sent cascades of droplets down the thin tendrils to drip onto the moist earth.
She moves down the rows furtively, hoping to traverse each row with her bare feet. In her haste she misses the smell of life and growing things. Ironic that those who have the health and vitality to experience all of the world rarely move slow enough to truly embrace such experiences. Slow, immersive experiences are left to those incapable of speeding through life. That's not to say that a faster pace leads to a poorer quality of life. I remember the thrill of sprinting across the fields, cut grass clinging to my bare feet and legs, morning mist wetting my hair. Laying out on bales of hay to dry in the morning sun.
We ran together, she and I. She lay with me, drying in the sun. Every day together save one, the last day I would ever run. The car hadn't seen me because of the pre-dawn mist and I hadn't seen the car because the headlights were off. It was no ones fault and both our fault.
I couldn't run through the morning mist anymore, but that didn't stop me from walking through it and without fail, she came to me. Every morning as the sun began its slow ascent into a grey sky, she sat waiting for me, perched on the old brown fence in front of the house. I would crawl down the steps and she would hop from the fence, as if nothing had changed in our morning routine. We walked down the dirt road and into the strawberry fields, morning after morning, wet mist and dewy grass clinging to our feet.