She puts the phone in her pocket and retrieves her cigarettes. She stands and lights up, allowing the smoke to do its calming job. She glances at the building, knowing Sarah isn’t there. It’s her day off. Mike went home hours ago.
Still, the phone sits in her pocket like a hot rock. She is reminded of the game hot potato she played as a kid at friends’ birthday parties. No one wanted to be stuck with the supposed potato. She begins to walk toward the woods. Her thoughts don’t make sense. That phone is her connection to her friends, her tiny world.
But it’s also a leap of faith, her first tentative step in taking a chance at life again. And that scares her.
Shelley’s legs shake as she ambles through the recovering grass toward the budding trees. Everything is coming alive again around her. The breeze is fresh breath on her face, the cacophony of birdsong a symphony of promise. She enters the woods for the first time. There is no marked path, yet she desires to be lost in her solitude for the moment.
Tall trees surround her. She closes her eyes, tries to imagine skyscrapers. The warmth of the sun kisses her face. She feels Russ’s lips on hers. She sits on the moist ground, reaches out, touches a mossy rock–the softness of skin on another human being. Her eyes gently open. The tears she held in break from their cages. Unsure of the reason for them, Shelley lets them fall. Maybe she can name every fragile stream that leaves its mark on her, every heartache, every memory, every person who has come and gone in her life.
She sits in seclusion for a while, the distant hum of the highway and the birdsong the only sounds. Unaware of when she fell asleep or had even been so worn out and worn down, Shelley’s eyes snap open when the first raindrop hits the crown of her head. She stands, pulls her hood over her head, and makes her way out of the woods.
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