Thunder clapped and my lips trembled at the intense sound. My lips give me away. I've learned to lie with my eyes: to smile with them when I feel disgust; to make them sparkle when I feel dread. My lips though, they curl at those I distrust and sneer at those who repulse me. They cling to an older version of me. They still think they belong to Joy Humbolt.
The rest of me is entirely Sydney Rye. Sydney's arms are strengthened from endless hours of pushups and tricep presses, her stomach is hard from crunches and side bends. And my legs, I use my legs to run. I don't know who Sydney Rye would be if she didn't run.
I tested the water in the tub, and finding it almost unbearably hot, eased into it. Water lapped at my clavicles. I let my eyelids close til my lashes kissed.
They started as a buzzing, like the sound of bugs against a window screen at night. The noise grew louder and I could make out individual words in the din. Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy, joy it seemed to be twerping.
I sat up with a start in the cold bath. Water sloshed over the edge and I looked around wildly for a moment trying to recollect where I was. The honey and cream colored marble, the gold faucet, and my toenails painted sweet salmon pink. Mexico City, pretending to be Sydney Rye, pretending to be Melanie Franks.
I sat back in the tub but it was too cold so I climbed out. Wrapping myself in a big fluffy robe I walked back into the bedroom. Blane was where I left him, engrossed in paperwork. He glanced up at me and then back down at his notes. Blue lifted his head off the carpet and tracked me as I got underwear, socks and a sports bra out of a drawer and then walked to my suitcase to pull out jogging shorts, a tank top and my running shoes. Seeing the shoes Blue stood and came over to me. His tail wagging, he tried to follow me into the bathroom but I closed the door.
I changed quickly while preparing myself mentally for the physical challenge ahead. I loved to run but had trouble taking that first step. Blue was a great help with this as he had no problem getting out the door. Blue did not have half the problems I did. He woke up in the morning without an alarm, he ate perfectly balanced meals; Blue's life was filled with easy discipline. Mine came at more of a price.
Out on the street the rain had stopped. I walked a couple of blocks just letting my body warm up to the idea of movement. It didn't take long before I wanted to run. I started going a little faster, jogging gently past shop windows filled with pencil-thin, faceless mannequins posing in extraordinary fabrics. A woman teetering on stiletto heels while jabbering into her cell phone walked a small, white, curly-haired dog. The little dog strained against its pink halter, yapping at us. Blue's head stayed straight and even with my hip. The little dog's bark faded as we turned onto a side street filled with shade, the sticky sweet scent of flowers, and the soft whoosh of a breeze. My pace picked up as I tread on fallen bright purple petals. I felt my heart quickening as Chapultepec Park rose up ahead.
Crossing into the park, I began a sprint. A line of families waiting to enter the zoo watched us pass. Little arms shot out to point at Blue, whispers of "lobo" followed us.
I felt like I was flying. Not a thought entered my head only the joy of speed as I raced down an empty path. When my chest felt like it was on the verge of explosion and my legs were no longer communicating I slowed down. The path under my feet was a light sand. The trees around me bent and swayed in the gentle wind. I relished the shade and mild temperature, the occasional gust that helped cool me.
My body recovered quickly and I picked up my pace again. My first trainer, a man named Merl who Mulberry sent to me in Puerto Penasco, taught me not to, as he put it, "blow my load" at the beginning of a jog. I tried to keep my pace steady as Blue and I wandered down paths that wound past lakes, families picnicking on large green fields, and shrubs pruned into abstract shapes.
Coming off a shaded trail into an opening, I looked up against the sun and saw the back of six columns in a semi-circle. I raced up the steps, taking them two at a time (not thinking about Rocky, or at least trying to avoid the comparison). At the top I stopped to catch my breath. Turning away from the columns toward the city, I looked out over a large boulevard. It looked like it went on forever. I felt that the whole of the metropolis lay before me.