Scarlett ran. She was bleeding from her arm but she ran until the pain left her thinking she couldn’t anymore and then she just kept going, trying desperately to convince herself the heavy thudding of him chasing her was one she could, or she should… escape.
She remembered the terror she felt as he drugged her, the overwhelming emotion when she awoke, duct-tape bound to a chair only by her hands, wedding rings missing. She remembered feeling betrayed and so foolish for not seeing who he really was. But she also remembered the deep dark truth within it all, the one she wanted so badly to ignore as she is known to do in a desperate attempt to act the way others expect of her. And while she’s running, her pace slows, still battling which direction to go in her head; accept the truth she knew, or run from it the way others would tell her to.
She jogged. It didn’t make sense. Part of her knew the decision she would make. But she started running again and alternated until one side of her finally won. By this time, she burst through the tree line out of the woods and came to concrete under her feet, the sudden difference in footing causing her to fall. Before she was fully aware of her surroundings she noticed herself on the edge of a curve in a narrow road, listening to his pounding footsteps coming closer and closer, finding herself oddly cemented where she was standing. She turned around as though to face him when he arrived, the adrenaline telling her she had no idea what she would do when he got there but not letting her move, caught in some blissful place between terror and excitement she’d never been before. He was so close.
The next thing she heard was a car approaching. She started backing away, moving further into the road intending, she thought, to cross it. She no sooner saw his dirty, sweat covered face emerge from the same spot she just had than the car whipped around the curve in the road, it’s headlights casting briefly but eerily over his entire body. She stood there, towards the other side of the road while everything went into slow motion. He ran towards her, the car coming at her from her right but she didn’t even look, she just closed her eyes, not knowing what would happen until next thing she knew, everything went black…
* * * * * *
[Several Months Earlier]
Clay and Scarlett sat beside each other on the patio in their backyard, early June. The weather was perfect. Scarlett liked to believe the weather was an indication of how someone’s world is, however it’s that belief that leaves her feeling lied to. A more appropriate representation would be clouds. No rain, no sun, just graying clouds through which the sun peeks its face every now and then. They used to be so happy. The kind of couple everyone envied because their love was so apparent. Now, as Scarlett reminisces about the days Clay couldn’t get enough of her, she watches as he talks avidly with her best friend.
They touch a lot, Evie and Clay. An arm during conversation, a hug for small congratulations, any little reason it seemed. She always thought for people who had only known each other for a few years they were oddly close, but Scarlett has long since told herself to stop being paranoid. After all, Clay has always been heavily involved in her life, surely he just wanted to be close with those Scarlett was close to. At least that’s what she had to tell herself.
Clay was very handsome; tall and dirty blonde with green eyes. She looked around their little backyard barbecue bustling with about 30 people, noticing aptly each woman present at least once stare over at him. She often wondered why a talented, attractive architect would choose her to spend his life with. After all, he was 4 years older with a solid grasp on who he was and what he wanted in life while she spent her time painting, writing, or helping the elderly update the décor in their homes as an independent interior designer. One day she hoped to put her sad Liberal Arts degree to good use. Clay could easily judge her, but he never did. He supported her always and although the stress from a big project at work put a lot of strain on their relationship, he never gave up supporting her and, as he puts it, her “enviable childlike view of the world”.
Scarlett was jolted from her thoughts as she heard yelling from the front yard. She walked with Clay through the gate then around the house, the rest of the guests in their wake, to discover what was causing such a disturbance in their get-together…
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