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The End of the World and More Importantly - Our Marriage

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Chapter 2

The little rental car took her to the Penbright house, although it protested the entire way, the engine sounded like it had smoked a pack a day for twenty-nine years. The lawn was perfectly manicured and the mailbox was bright neon pink as the waitress promised. Meridia wondered why Ted never brought her here, it was weird to only see your husband’s family a handful of times ever. She assumed they’d had a falling out when he left the church and married a billionaire pop-star.

She knocked on the door. There were no sounds or lights from within. The freezing air brushed the back of her neck and suddenly she felt out of place. Ted’s mother opened the door. Her eyes were sunken in her pale face.

“Hey Judy, how’s it going?” Meridia asked in her normal un-accented voice. “Can I come in?”

She took off her sunglasses and smiled. Her mother-in-law swayed on her feet, seemingly half asleep.

“Meridia?” she asked in a hollow voice. “Honey, what are you up to?” she whispered.

Meridia frowned, not sure how to reply.

Judy opened her mouth wide, the whites of her eyes showing as she lunged. Like a feral animal the older woman tackled Meridia, howling and screaming until they fell down in a tangle of limbs. Meridia was so stunned she could barely react as Judy squeezed her arms to her side and held her in a surprisingly strong bearhug. In the tussle, Judy scraped her face hard on the cement but didn’t seem to care, blood poured from a cut on her forehead. Her father-in-law came from around the corner with a cup of coffee.

“Jim!” Meridia screamed, “help me!” she felt Judy’s arms tighten even more and the wind was squeezed out of her lungs. The bloody scrape was pressed against Meridia’s face and her stomach clenched.

Jim strode up to the struggling pair, standing over them with a placid and unkind expression. His eyes were sunken and dark as if he hadn’t slept in days. He wore work clothes and heavy boots.

“Ok.” Jim said calmly. Then he raised a boot to kick her in the head. Merida spun herself around, using her mother in law’s struggling momentum and throwing her. Jim tumbled, all three of them were screaming now. A small part of Merida’s mind couldn’t help but imagine how this would look to the paparazzi, or through someone’s cell phone camera. That didn’t matter now, what mattered was not being murdered by her in-laws. She scrambled to her feet, the middle aged couple were slowly getting up. Judy’s face was a mask of blood now, her red visage was grim and emotionless as she hunched herself over, preparing to attack again.

Merida was running to that horrible little car, her keys jingled loudly as she tried to open the lock. Jim was on his feet now, his massive frame swayed as he started running towards her like a linebacker. Merida finally got the keys into the door and twisted, she flung herself in the car and pressed the lock button. Jim was at the door now and he wrenched it as hard as he could, the entire car moved from the force of it, but the lock held. He looked at her with his sunken eyes. She followed his gaze, the passenger side was unlocked.

“Fuck these old cars” said Merida as she dove to lock the other side too

Judy was already there, she pulled the door open quickly. Her white teeth stood out against her mask of red. Merida sat on the center console and kicked Judy as hard as she could with both feet.

“Sorry!” she called as the middle aged woman flew back. Meridia slammed the door closed, locked it and tried to start the engine. It didn’t turn over. Jim began to smash in the windshield with his massive hands.

Merida’s heart was racing as she tried the engine again, the ancient machine grinded and coughed but didn’t start. Jim was standing on the hood now, using both hands to crush the glass. Spiderweb cracks were forming all over. Merida tried the engine and tapped the gas, there was a long moment as the ignition screamed and sputtered, then with a glorious roar the tiny engine of the car came to life and Meridia slammed it into reverse. The windshield shattered. Jim sliced both his hands open as he tried to reach through the glass to get her, Merida swerved while still going in reverse. His hands flew out of the hole in the windshield and there was a soft thud as his body hit the road. She didn’t stop, she kept reversing until she hit some shrubbery then she quickly put the car in drive and peeled out of the pristine little neighborhood. Fuck, she thought. What the fuck Ted.

The car complained as she kept the gas pedal firmly on the floor. It was hard to navigate with the ruined windshield, the cracks had turned the entire thing opaque and impossible to see through. She was forced to look through the hole Jim had made with his hands. With his goddamn hands. Merida pulled out her phone, it was severely cracked from her tussle with Judy. But she was still able to call 911. There was silence on the other end. Then a voice she didn’t recognize said “Merida.” she blinked, and swerved to avoid a mailbox. Her head was swimming.

“Hello I was just attacked, I need someone to escort me. I’m located at-” she began frantically

“Merida honey, what are you up to?” the voice said. The tone seemed familiar, even though the man’s voice was unknown to her.

“Please, is this the emergency line?” she begged, her brain felt like it was on fire. This had to be a nightmare.

There was silence on the other end. Her smashed phone screen displayed 911 on the outgoing call. She hung up. She looked up a second too late to notice the boats.

There were three boats on trailers in the middle of road, perfectly blocking her path. The Yugo slammed into one at an angle as she tried to steer away, the car crunched. The world shuddered and skipped, then was flying through the air-- pieces of the windshield falling along side her like gentle snow. Then the ground came to meet her.

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