Daisy came out the emergency door of the apartment staircase into the parking lot to find Connor sitting on the hood of his Dad’s car waiting for her.
“Hey, babe.” He jumped up and limped to her side. “Thanks for coming down.”
“What happened to your legs?”
Connor took her hand and began limping towards the boardwalk. “I told you about the ‘torture run’ Andy took me and Mark on yesterday after you left for the hospital.”
“Yea, but you didn’t tell me you got hurt. You guys were all fired up after that run yesterday. What happened?” Concern rose in Daisy’s eyes as she observed the pained look on his face.
“I wasn’t hurting until I tried to walk this morning,” Connor chuckled at his crying limbs. “We ran every pedestrian staircase down Highway 74 all the way to the Family Mart and back. I was so mad at the irritation brothers I barely felt it at the time, but I’m feel ’in it now.” He bent over and tried to touch his toes but couldn’t. He winced and then laughed at the ache that ran up the back of his legs.
Daisy smiled sympathetically. “If you’re hurting maybe we shouldn’t run.”
“I’m gonna be miserable if I don’t get the kinks out of my legs and run a little before school starts.” He smiled down at her concerned face. “Would you help me?”
“Kay, just a short one then.” Daisy began to jog slowly.
Without complaint Connor bobbed along at her side.
Daisy assessed Connor’s condition to herself, “He’s out of sync but moving. I guess that’s okay.”
It was true that sore muscles had to be stretched out or they would just continue to get tighter and tighter until the athlete couldn’t take it anymore, but how much movement was good when injured? Was he injured or just sore? She didn’t feel qualified to answer these type of questions, so Daisy watched him carefully from the corner of her eye as she gnawed on what the answers to these questions might be.
Connor felt her eyes on him as he hobbled along next to her. In a lame effort to disguise his pain, he returned her concerned glances with smiles.
When they hit the boardwalk they walked up the few steps and looked out across the ocean. The beach was empty this early in the morning. The water was dark and undisturbed. The salt air was fresh but freezing. Connor wrapped his arms around Daisy’s shoulders and hugged her close. “It wasn’t what I had hoped,” he whispered sadly.
“What do you mean?”
“I dreamed about your poem last night. It reminded me that I’d promised you a run. I was hoping for a good one, ya know, the kind that makes you happy. I’m sorry babe.” He kissed the side of her head apologetically.
Daisy gave his waist a squeeze. “Every day is different, every run is different. I am very happy running with you no matter how the run turns out. You always surprise me.”
“Is watch ‘in me run still.. never boring?”
“You, are definitely never boring.” Daisy giggled, then took his hand and led him to a picnic table. “Here, put your foot up on the bench and try stretching the back of your leg a little bit.”
He followed her advice and tried stretching out. She ran her hand down the back of his leg, massaging gently. He let a grunt or two accidentally slip out, but Daisy ignored it and kept massaging all the way down to his ankle.
“Put the other foot up here.”
Connor winced as he switched legs and tried stretching again. Daisy again ran her hand carefully down the back of his leg, massaging lightly.
“Does that help at all?”
“Yea, it does. Thanks babe.”
“Want to jog or walk back?”
Connor rolled his eyes at the question. “Hobble of course. Why else did I come out here?”
Daisy smiled at his good natured attitude then she headed down the steps and back out to the street for home.
Connor followed a step or two behind her, enjoying the view. She knew what he was doing too. Every once in a while she’d glance back at him to make sure he was okay. He’d give her a smile as he limped along in her wake.
“Cut it out, Connor!” Daisy hollered. Then she stepped backwards and punched him in the arm.
“Ow! What’s that for?” Connor whined playfully. “I had a hard run yesterday remember? I’m injured.”
“Evidently not injured enough. Now quit look ’in at my butt!” She hollered and punched him again.
“Okay, okay, okay, quit punch ’in me.” He laughed as he picked up his pace to match hers the rest of the way back home.
When they reached the apartment parking lot, Connor grabbed Daisy and kissed her playfully. “Thanks babe. I feel much better.” He beamed a happy smile for her.
“I’m all sweaty, Connor,” she complained as he attempted to embrace her.
“Sweaty… hmmm…. maybe I can come up with a few lines for you, to make up for the lousy run.” Connor looked up to the parking lot ceiling then back down at his perspiring girlfriend in his unrelenting arms and said, “I think salt is good with sweet stuff..,” he chuckled then continued:
For me, the combo is an absolute must.
Morning runs alone are just not enough.
I need my sweet Daisy, tough.
She leaves every girl I know in the dust.
I love it when her eyes are all fired up.
Her cheeks bright red, sweat in her hair and all that stuff.
“Connor, you’re so gross,” Daisy giggled.
“Not gross,” Connor whispered close to her ear as he held her, “That’s my Day-Day when she runs. Hair flying, sweat rolling, you get that crazy focused look in your eyes, man, that really gets me go ’in. I don’t know how to make it all rhyme like you do, Day. But I love watch ’in you run too,” Connor paused then got a little twinkle in his eye. “Then of course, the best thing is watch ’in you from behind, that’s poetry in motion!” Connor roared laughing as Daisy pounded his chest.
“Connor Bailey you quit that!”
“No babe. Please don’t make me quit! It’s too much fun!” He laughed and laughed while Daisy pounded him for his rude comment.
“Okay, okay, okay. I’ll quit. I’ll quit. I’ll quit!” He took off for the emergency staircase door and hobbled up the stairs as fast as he could, trying to escape Daisy’s brutal but playful beating.
“Bet I can get ready for school faster than you can!”
“Bet you can’t!”
“Meet you down stairs again in five minutes!”
“Five minutes, no way! I have to wash my hair!”
“Too bad, so sad for you, then I’ll win!” Connor slammed his apartment door shut.
Daisy slammed the Greene apartment door shut, and they were off to beat each other getting ready for school.
Thirty minutes later, Daisy banged the emergency staircase door open and ran wildly into the parking lot looking for Maria’s car. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Connor standing at the side of Maria’s car, holding the door open for her.
“Hey Day. Good time girl.” Connor looked at his watch then grinned cheerfully.
“Aw, man,” she mumbled to herself as she slowly proceeded to the car and got in.
“Your hair looks real nice, babe,” Connor whispered as he slid in next to her.
“Thanks,” Daisy mumbled still a bit disappointed that she’d not beaten him to the car.
On the drive to school, Andy, Connor and Mark bragged about their challenging run down Highway 74 then argued about whose fault it was that they were so sore. The conversation eventually moved on to Maria and Daisy going to Surfside after school with Coach Peggy and Mr. and Mrs. Langley.
“Everybody come to my house tonight for dinner, and Daisy and I will tell you everything that happened at Surfside, okay?” Maria said as she parked in the school parking lot.
“Yes!” They all agreed then split up for classes.