The steep slope forces him to slow his pace as he has blurry vision. He feels short of breath doing the veins in his temples throb frantically.
Slowly he looks around him. The trees stand like giants changing skin after three days of sunstroke on the shore of a tropical beach.
The cool breeze competes with the sweat soaking through your T-shirt and polyester shorts, designed to be lightweight for marathoners. Yet he feels how heavy these are when there are saturated.
He couldn't hold on any longer.
The gasps are indicative of his exhausted will. He fell backward onto the dry ground with incipient weeds emerging from the blackened soil: ashes from the fire that ravaged the hill months earlier.
He remembered the instructions of the college athletic trainer: Don't stop. Walk until you catch your breath.
An internal force painfully squeezed his leg muscles. He frowned, emitting a groan for a few minutes that seemed eternal.
So, the problem that led him to run cross-country up the hill: Now, it was non-existent.
Lying there in a vulnerable condition, he assessed with a new perspective what he thought impossible.
He had no desire to continue to deal with life's adversities. An imperturbable routine was killing him slowly but surely.
The tingling that runs through his bent legs surprises him. He turns to the left and sees the entrance to the hole guarded by dozens of black ants while others carry large leaves on top inside.
How strong they are, he thought, trying to put himself in the place of one of them. The last one to enter, with a large leaf twenty times bigger than it, seemed unfazed by the march.
He felt admiration for the strength of the little creatures.
Then he looked at the scars on the tree diagonal to him. Though the fire nearly consumed it, the branches greened. He visualized in his mind's eye the strong roots pushing through in search of water.
At the top, birds flitted around the nest. Sure enough, they were feeding their chicks.
He remembered the view from the safety of home. An embracing fire of great flames and implacable, trying to consume everything in its path.
Time passed as usual, but for the first time in months, he had no urge to finish or skip the lesson nature freely gave him.
With a fresh breath, he deduced the end of the outdoor lesson.
Her legs still trembled, plus perspiration cooled her over-excited body from the almost suicidal exertion for someone out of condition.
This time he went down the slope, cushioning the step so as not to mistreat his knees. Besides, he wanted to continue to contemplate everything around him.
A snake rattled its bells. The heart rate accelerated again, but when detected where it came from, moved away so as not to disturb it.
Breaking the routine so as not to drive him crazy led him to the exhaustion he urgently needed.
In a couple of days, he would be forty years old. Although, in the eyes of others, he looked very successful and with good fortune. In reality, he was a man who used to enjoy solitude, but now, it tormented him.
The snake came back to his mind. Perhaps, it was female and only warned that it was protecting the territory where it laid its eggs.
Instead, he had no one to protect.
He realized what a false life he had been leading, projecting illusions. Reason for insomnia at the possibility of non-payment of debts to maintain the status.
At least the trees had a noble motive, such as supporting the life of the animals, despite the exhaustion they suffered in the face of a fearsome enemy.
Stumbling over a stone, he almost fell flat on his face. Fortunately, he was able to cling to the trunk of a dry tree, which brought him a pseudo-Epiphany.
He did not want to be a broken and lifeless trunk. Although standing.
He was exhausted from the empty life full of luxuries. Worst of all, of having to cyclically renegotiate the debt. At some point, sooner rather than later, he will be hopelessly insolvent.
So, although physically exhausted, nature enlightened him, and he knew about the unstoppability of time. He must make the most of the life he still had left without wasting it on futilities.
That night, the bed and the pillow seemed silky and delicious as he had never felt it before.
The worries hidden under a cloak of imperturbability disappeared.
The turn of events planned for the new stage of his life excited him so much that he dreamed of seeing himself married at last and with beautiful children.
An original short story by @janaveda
Thanks for reading me. I hope this short story is to your liking. I would very much like to read your comments in this regard to enrich myself with your criticism.