The 6 foot 3 17 and a half stone man had been feeling cooped up in his house for far too long. He decided to take a run along Annadale Embankment on a dreary Belfast day, something he hadn’t done in ages. The man was self-conscious about his weight, but he felt determined to get back into shape. He donned his full-length trenchcoat and set off on his walk/run with a sense of nervous anticipation.
He could sense deep within himself that he was going to make an absolute bollocks of this workout. The anxiety was palpable in his guts, but then again this was one of the first times he left his house in about 14 fucking months.
As he jogged along the embankment, he was soon caught up in the rhythm of his breathing and the sound of his footsteps hitting the pavement. But his moment of peace was soon shattered when he ran past a mother and her young child. The little girl took one look at the man flapping away in his trenchcoat and started to cry, terrified by the sight of what appeared to be a depressed monk-like ghost.
The man was shocked and felt a surge of embarrassment wash over him. He was just one broken synapse away from putting his finger to his lips and making a shushing noise towards her to try to mitigate the awkwardness, but he remembered his childhood PTSD and stopped himself. Instead, he just walked past them with his head bowed in shame. He couldn’t bear the thought of causing any more distress to the mother and her child.
As he turned to leave, he realized that the little girl had stopped crying and was looking at him with a mixture of curiosity and confusion but then sped off again at warp speed as he was paranoid that such an encounter could lead to him signing some sort of register for life.
From that day on, the man made sure to avoid running during the day when innocent and/or confused people were about, unless of course he was sent to a convalescent home for his mental health problems where he had planned on becoming the ward fitness guru who aimlessly yet excitedly ran laps of the yard at break with his shirt around his head like a Tesco own-brand version of Fabrizio Ravenelli.
He also started to work on his self-confidence and focus on the positive impact that his new fitness routine was having on his mental and physical health. And who knows, maybe one day he’ll even ditch the trenchcoat but that’s fucking unlikely since it’s always about -17C in Belfast even when it’s 17C unless you’re standing beside or on top of a fucking bonfire.