The heat is unassuming at first. You step out onto streets full of festival-goers in shorts and name tags and wend toward the river. You are wary, and yet the sun is setting. There is a slight breeze. If the thermometer says 90, this does not seem so bad.
It is only as you start to run that the full weight of the heat envelopes you. The air is thick. You jog along a dirt path that seems to steam in this early Texas evening. A few runners pass you. You wonder how they can run so fast. It turns out to be bravado. Up ahead, many of them stop and walk. You pass them in return. Everyone sweats. You try to focus on the spots of shade where the trees, green with early spring, cast their shadows. You study the slow water.
And then, over time, something happens. Your body melds with the heat. Your running becomes more fluid. You just keep going and soon the coming twilight does allow for a bit of coolness to flit off the river. On your sweaty face it feels good. You look up at the gorgeous red sun sinking and casting brilliant light on the buildings downtown. You feel, as you pound along this path, intensely alive. You breathe in. You pause only to wonder why this river seems to have an audience. Up on the bridge the cars are stopped. The crowds gather. They stare at something. What is it?
“The bats,” a man standing on the bank says, simply. You look to the sky. There their dark bodies rise, a black cloud, dissipating up with the disappearing day.