Second picture from the top here.
Mark was running. He'd been running for a while now.
He didn't know if running was going to bring him answers, but at least, focusing on his breathing kept him from thinking, and he'd done way too much of that lately. It was time he acted. Of course, action could mean decision, choice, responsibility, and he wasn't sure he was quite up to that yet. Better to run and exhaust himself that way than to think of things he could do, things he wanted to do, but things he was scared shitless of doing.
OK, so maybe running wasn't quite as efficient as he'd hoped in preventing the same train of thought he'd been following since he'd met her. Don't. Think about her.
The road was too easy, that was the problem. Mark suddenly veered into the cornfield on his right. The cornstalks were high, slapping his face as he ran. He had to find a rhythm. Breathe, run, swat the stalks out of his way, breathe, run, swat, breathe, run, swat.
Good, that seemed to be working.
Mark suddenly heard a rumbling noise, and felt the ground vibrating. Shit. Harvest, or something equally annoying. A tractor was apparently coming his way. If the guy on the tractor - hopefully there was a guy on the tractor, otherwise his indecisiveness would seem the least of his trivial worries in a few minutes - spotted him, he could be in a world of trouble. Trespassing or some such. Mark had no idea if private-property laws applied to cornfields by the side of a public road.
Shit. He just wasn't catching a break, was he? He contemplated continuing to run, pretending he hadn't heard. Then he envisioned his own body in a tractor-trampled mess, stopped running and turned around. The sun was extremely hot, he hadn't realised. He was covered in sweat. Mark shielded his eyes as he looked up to the driver who was approaching at a leisurely speed. Maybe there wouldn't be trouble.
"What do you think you're doing? These are delicate, you know. What if you ruined any?"
"Sorry, sir. I don't think I did, though. I was careful."
"Yeah, sure you were. Running like a maniac across my field, I'm sure you took very good care of my corn. You in trouble?"
"No! Not at all", Mark chuckled "I'm just trying to... escape my thoughts. If that makes sense."
Oh good, now he sounded like a pretentious city boy. That was going to help.
"Yeah well, couldn't you use the wood further up? It's dense, you'd have plenty to swat at. And stop thinking."
Mark looked at the man on the tractor. Seventy-ish, laugh lines, and a very kind look in his eyes.
"Hey, listen, I'm sorry about the corn, if I... broke any, I'll pay. It's just... I'm... Ugh. Sorry. I'll... go now."
"Yeah. Try that, and I'll be seeing you running in circles tomorrow. You're pretty far in, y'know, I doubt you'll find your way back. Hop on."
Mark hesitated a second.
"Oh, come on. Never wanted a ride on a tractor, city boy? I'll drop you at the road. Besides, it gets lonely up here, I could use the company for a while. You tell me what it was that was so appealing about the corn. Earn your wreckage a little bit." The man smiled.
Mark hoisted himself up on the seat. Tight, but comfy. The man let him have a little bit more sitting space.
"Lionel", the man said, extending his hand.
"Oh, um, how do you do, sir, I'm Mark".
They drove in silence for a while. The field was beautiful from above. Like a sea of green leaves and yellow foam. Oh god. He had to stop. Thinking. Ever.
"So. Don't mind me asking, but seeing as you potentially ruined some of my plants there, I sure would like to know what it is you're running away from. Hmmm?"
"Oh, just... this and that, you know. Annoying thoughts. Hey, that "city boy" shot. That stung a little. That obvious?"
Lionel let out great peals of laughter. It was a perfect soundtrack to the whole scene. Oh dear lord, stop thinking!
"Y...", he started laughing again, "yeah... The whole 'running' thing screams city around here. Y'know?"
"No, I don't, actually. I'm just here on a whim. I took the first bus for a week-end-in-the-country thing. Stopped randomly. I don't think I could even tell you where I really am staying."
"You must have stopped at Dyersville, that's the closest from here. Still. Quite a while you've been running, here."
"Yeah. I feel it."
The silence wasn't uncomfortable.
"So, you don't wanna say. That bad?"
"Oh", Mark chuckled self-consciously, "no, it's... really silly actually. Boy meets girl, boy can't get girl out of his head, boy decides to run to stop thinking. Simple."
"Yeah, cause running will definitely help you make the right choices, eh."
"Uh, no, it's just... I don't... Yes. I don't want to make choices. I don't want to take a risk. I don't want to end up biting the dust. Do you often do that?"
"Play shrink to people you find running in your field?"
"Yeah. Corn doesn't pay that much, you know. I had to diversify. Psychology is as good a way as any, I guess." Lionel laughed again. "Don't be silly. You're here, you need to talk... You talk, I listen, is all. Here's the road. You wanna keep running away, or you wanna keep an ol' man company?"
"Oh. Oh. Um, I'll be happy to stay. If you don't mind."
"Yeah, I do, but what can I say, I'm all about other people."
They laughed. It felt strangely natural, to be sitting there with a man he'd only just met. Mark knew then he was going to tell him the whole thing. He knew he was going to listen to what the old man had to say. Hell, he knew he wanted to listen. He was so glad he'd taken that bus. He was even gladder he'd hopped off where he had.
Not thinking. Sometimes that was key.