Where Readers & Writers Connect
I leave snicker-doodle fluff leftovers on the marble counter top and smile, imagining the free-for-all snacking that will occur when the kids come home from school. Meanwhile, I now have only 30 minutes for my jog before they arrive. I rush up the staircase, the sound reverberating along the empty house; slip off my knit dress and leggings and exchange them for a pair of exercise pants and my favorite Nike sweatshirt.
The woosh of air as I exit my foyer is exhilarating. Forget the jog! I laugh to myself and delve into a full blown run down the sidewalk of my picket-fenced neighborhood. I can run a mile in seven minutes. Today I will run five.
I notice, after rounding the corner shop that sells assorted collectables, a vermillion colored sedan has slowed to a crawl behind me. The driver must be admiring the shop, I reason at first. But I hear the engine hum and the tires crunch slowly over the gravel as I turn off onto the four-season goose trail. I glance behind me and see the vehicle has passed. I shake my head at my paranoia. One mile down, four to go.
The trees along the trail pattern from tunneling me to creating a beautifully scenic, hypethral view. I enjoy the foliage changes, colors that range from lobster red to butterscotch yellow and are accented by the sun’s sparkle through the trees. I keep up my flawless pace. Two miles down, three to go.
Mile three is slightly more difficult as the trail winds up the hill and around the river bend. I concentrate on dinner with my ex-husband this evening, and hash over how I will stand up for myself. I will tell him to stop threatening to take my children away. “I am a fit mother,” I will say. “I love my children and they will stay with me.” Deep down, I know my Ex expects me to say this. He has already said he will have them or else. But he is a shady character and I will fight for them. I can feel the strength in my legs as I run, and I know I can finally say this. Three down, two to go.
Four miles, slightly out of breath, and I’ve begun the final stretch of trail that leads back to my empty home. I try not to think of all the furniture I’ve sold to keep the house on my meager sales-management salary. I even sold my ancient book of Runes, a prize in my collection, in order to stay. Now all that’s left is my life insurance policy and the basic necessities to function—a couch, dishes, beds and personal belongings. The boys don’t seem to mind, but my little Ellie misses her china dolls.
Mile five. I’m rounding the corner to my home. At this point I usually see the angle of the porch and the brick-paved walk to its steps. But the vermillion sedan blocks the familiar view. The windows are tinted so dark I can’t see the driver’s face. I slow, wiping sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand. The vehicle passes me then stops. I speed up. I’m almost home. The sedan’s engine roars with a sudden bolt of gas, and I hear the car speeding up behind me. I veer toward my brick-pathway, knowing I will not make it there in time. I see my children’s faces in the window, their mouths open. My eldest has the bowl of fluff in his hands. I hope their father won’t kill them too.