I followed her through the sun-dappled field. Insects whirred all around us as the late August sun beat down. The leaves barely moved. No longer the vibrant green of early spring, they looked tired, beaten down by life, ready for autumn and the cooler temperatures. I could relate.
All I really wanted to do was sit on the porch swing with Callie, pull her close and close my eyes. But she was pissed and wouldn’t give me a chance to explain. Like usual. I’d let her go, figuring I’d apologize and smooth things over later after we’d both had a chance to cool down. Things would be better after we got married.
But something about the way she way she carried herself was different. There hadn’t been any tears when she left this time, just a calm that unnerved me. The farther away she got, the more buoyant she seemed. She’d always said that one of these days it would be over for good. The way her shoes dangled from her fingertips as she carelessly swung her arms made me think this was the day. I couldn’t let things end like this. We were meant to be together.
The longer I followed, the farther away she seemed to get. She wasn’t running, but I was. My feet pounded across the dry ground, the prickly burrs in the tall grass scraping at my legs. As I ran, the light changed. The diffused, golden glow grew cold and almost painfully bright, and the ground oddly hard and slippery beneath my feet. The pleasant chatter of bugs turned strangely mechanical and alarming, and Callie seemed to be getting farther away than ever.
“Mr. Porter, stop.” Hands gripped my arms and I turned, ready to swing at whoever was trying to keep me from her.
I blinked, and the tired green of the leaves faded into the tired green of painted cinderblock walls. A woman in blue scrubs led me to a high-backed mauve vinyl chair and motioned for me to sit. Rose. That was her name.
“It’s time for your meds, now.”
“Oh. Of course.”
She handed me a paper cup with several brightly colored pills in the bottom and another, slightly larger paper cup filled with tepid water. I stared at my hands. Wrinkled and spotted with age, they were the hands of a stranger.
I opened my mouth, but Rose spoke before I could say anything. “Yep, Mr. Porter, those are your hands. Same as the were yesterday and the day before that.”
I frowned at at the pills, but tossed them back anyway, closing my eyes as Rose took both cups from me.
“I’ll be back with your supper in about thirty minutes.”
The faint chirping of birds filled the air and the sun shone warm on my back. I glanced down, pleased to see that my hands looked like mine again–even if they were around Callie’s throat.
Erm…on that happy note, let’s go see what everyone else came up with. Click their names to find out.