How long have I been running? I feels like forever, but for all I know I’ve been running for 20 minutes. I turn to sit behind a pretty hefty tree.
My heart is going a thousand miles an hour and it’s finally hitting me what I’ve done.
If he finds me or catches me I’m dead. He’s going to kill me. I might actually die.
I feel the hot tears run down my face and realize I’m crying. I sniff one too many times before I wipe them away and stand up. I continue to walk until I start to see lights. It’s the city.
I clutch my bag and run straight until I touch pavement. My heavy breathing catching strangers off guard as they look at me as if they’ve seen a monster. Cars passing by and people stopping to stare at the disarranged girl who appeared from the woods.
“Would anyone happen to know where the bus stop is?” I ask looking at all the strangers who were baffled to know I could speak. A saw a little girl who ran up to me and grabbed my hand.
“Me and my aunty can take you. We ride the bus a lot too. One time we had to stand next to a stinky man.”
She continues on her story as she drags me behind her aunt to the bus stop. She made me smile. She was no older than maybe 7.
“You know I had a little girl too. She was the prettiest thing. Had hair just like you too.” I smile.
She grabs onto her brown curls and looks surprised with wide eyes and opened mouth missing maybe two front teeth.
“Just like mine? Did you hear that Aunty? A girl has hair just like mine! Where is she?” She asked excited.
I smiled a sad smile.
“Well, she didn’t get to grow up and see the world and see little girls with the same hair as her.” I say ruffling the little girls hair making her laugh.
We get to the bus stop and as we are standing and waiting the little girl is preoccupied by the reflection in some water on the ground. Her aunt turns to speak to me.
“Who are you running from?”
The sudden question made me raise my attention from the little girl and stare at the aunt.
“I’m no stranger to the task honey. I’ve been through my own troubles. You come out of the woods and look at the city like you’ve never been happier clutching that bag for dear life. Tear stained face and your makeup is rubbing off. Your eye is showing sweetheart. Don’t forget about the wedding ring still on your finger. Gonna pawn it or what?”
I stood blank face before answering.
“My husband. I don’t need to pawn it I have enough money. I’ll probably give it to someone who needs the pawn money.” I say looking straight ahead.
“Well honey you need to leave the state. Don’t go to any family that’s the first place he will check. Find a quiet job where you don’t see many people every day in and out so no fast food. Get an office job or call center. Go to the police before he does. He can’t report you missing for 24 hours. Let them know you aren’t missing, but don’t give details.”
She knew so much. It was almost scary how much advice she was giving me. This is her making sure I don’t make mistakes she did.
The bus finally arrived and I road it all the way down town thinking I could get off there before I was grabbed by the little girl.
“Come stay with us. Aunty can she stay with us?”
I looked up at the mother with apologetic eyes ready to politely deny the little girl.
“Of course sweetheart. Please it’s no problem.” Because I could deny the door closed for downtown so I had no choice.
We rode the bus another 10 minutes before getting off. We walked another mile before reaching her home. It was a small, but beautiful town home. As we walked up a man no older than 25 walked out of the house.
He’s so so pretty. I stopped walking and stared as the little girl ran up to him.
She said as she ran straight into his arms and got spun around.
“Hey booger. How was your day with Aunty Mel?” He turns and sees me, a mess, standing with who I am assuming is Mel.
“Mickey we have a guest for the next couple of days. This is-“ she stops and waits for me to say my name.
“Oh. I’m Tia.” I say confidently
“Tia this is my nephew Mickey.”
He rolls his eyes and smiles
“Come on aunt Mel you’re the only one who calls me that. The name is Amos.”
He looks at me with a smile and bright eyes regardless of my state of mess. I nod my head at him.
“We let’s get inside so she can shower and get some food in her system.”
We made our way inside and as I went up the porch steps I smiled feeling free for the first time since being engaged.