Overheard

Running along the old railroad bed, I pause when I see a couple ahead of me. I know her as an acquaintance, and she’s walking and talking animatedly with a man I don’t know.

I linger behind, breathing deeply, just about near the end of my run anyway. They keep walking. Sunlight filters through the trees over the narrow path.

Then, abruptly, what I realize fascinates me so much is merely the carefree tone of their conversation. They keep at it, talking, their hands gesturing together. Sure, I overhear people; I’m not a shut-in. But I’m mesmerized for these moments by their unmasked and unguarded tone, or maybe I’m just happy to hear their laughter. I live in Vermont, where many people, including myself, are vaccinated and use masks; this makes sense to me. Maybe I’m just enchanted by the warm September sunlight, spilling down through the leaves that are golden and red and beginning to drift earthward.

I linger, following, until they go their way, and I go mine.