Demeter went for a jog. She wanted to say that it was her habit, but really, she never jogged. Not even back at her hometown, where there was plenty of space and nature to run around in.

She ran, pacing herself. She knew she was a bit out of shape and the last thing she needed was a cramp or something. No, she was self-conscious enough to try and burn some calories, but not force herself too much at the same time. She panted, stopped and took a sip of her water. The city had a nice park, and there were joggers running up and down, it was almost crowded. Of course, like everything, people turned this simple act into a race and a mating ritual. There was a guy in his fifties over there, trying to prove to the young ladies that he still got it. There was a woman in her thirties, shocked by the discovery of drooping skin and other bits. And those two girls in their twenties, sharing their jog online, with a selfie drone following them as they giggled and made faces. Actually, of the three groups, the last one was the one who seemed to be having the most fun of them all. Frivolous, sure. But that’s how they had been raised, and this was a healthy exercise. So what if they minded their Agora followers and the reactions they got in the mean time?

Demeter didn’t have any followers. Just some people from back in the town, who she grouped into a category that didn’t get her big city updates. Last thing she needed was for everyone to be gossiping about her back home.

And now? With her thesis? Now that was juicy gossip.

She could almost hear their whispers. An academic whore.

Even her professor had seen it like that. Not the one who picked up her thesis, but another one, one who she used to respect after reading all of his books. He actually told her to find an easier way to whore herself, no need to make such a big deal out of it.

Nasty comments. That’s what she needed to get out of her head.

Demeter pressed her lips together and started running again. She ran past the mid-life crisis guy, past the sagging tits lady, and past the selfie girlfriends and kept on running. She jumped in place and snatched the selfie drone from midair.

The two girls cried out, “Hey! That’s ours.”

Demeter didn’t care. “I’ll give it back next round,” she shouted and darted off. She turned the selfie drone towards her face, holding it before her as she would a pet. The camera was on her, recording her every move.

“I’m Demeter,” she said to the foreign followers, still running. She was exerting herself, getting sweaty and reddish and blotchy. She wasn’t pretty, she knew that. “I’m an academic whore,” she said to everyone who was listening. She still ran, almost having finished the round and getting close to the spot where she started from. She felt like dying, her legs hurt. Heck, she hadn’t ran this much since she was a kid. She always used to run everywhere. Running is fun, that’s why kids do it every chance they get. Adults forget about it sometimes. And sure, they take up jogging, and get the endorphins and they remember that it feels like fun.

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But they overcomplicate it in the process. It’s no longer just them, their pair of legs and the open road. It’s sports bras and waterproof eyeliner and electrolytes and showing off to the ladies and the gents and checking to see if your tits are still saggy and fitness counters and broadcasting it all to anyone who cares to watch.

Demeter felt she was gonna collapse. She was completely out of shape, she couldn’t even handle one lap. Panting, she forced herself to keep going. She had her mouth open, panting like a bitch. She didn’t look pretty. She kept the selfie drone up, aimed at herself. She couldn’t see the girls’ followers reactions and comments. She didn’t have instant feedback on her actions, on her stupidity.

She was just a girl trying to prove to herself that she could do it, dammit!

She forced her leg to move forward, then the other, then repeated the motion. They burned, her calves, her thigh muscles, her whatever they were called down below. She could see the finish line, though.

It was the line she had started from, and all she needed was like thirty more metres and she would prove to herself she could do it. Twenty. Fifteen. Her legs didn’t move.

She fell via momentum alone for the last few metres and collapsed on the finish line, the selfie drone tumbling out of her hand and on the ground.

The mid-life crisis came leaning over her, worried. “Are you okay, miss?” He fanned some air into her face.

The saggy tits lady unstrapped Demeter’s water bottle from her calf and splashed some on her face. “That feels nice…” she mumbled, her eyes unfocused.

From somewhere next to her, she head the piercing shrieks of the selfie girls. They picked up their drone and threw it in the air. It came crashing down on the ground, one of the propellers bent. It was unable to maintain its balance.

“I’m sorry. I’ll pay for it,” Demeter mumbled.

“What? No, it’s fine, girl! You got us like, a thousand shares,” one of the selfie girls said, scrolling through her feed in her veil. “They’re calling you the academic whore.”

“Good,” Demeter snorted and let her head fall back onto the ground.

Immobility. It felt glorious.

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