Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
A few blocks from the library, I searched for a spot to pull over. My hands were shaking and legs felt like rubber. I had to pick up the computer cord. If he had seen me, there would be no need to justify it. I shouldn’t need and excuse for refusing Alex access to my computer. I have my clients’ information on it and I want to keep it protected. Yet I was afraid to stand up to him.
Alex has thrown me to the ground, been homeless, channeled excessive anger towards me, and certain his life is in danger. There was something darker under the surface that scares me even more. He is in more trouble than I can to imagine. A lot of distance between us is the only option.
I pulled off at a small park, shut the engine off, and pressed my forehead into the steering wheel. The sound of children playing and a dog barking nearby made me feel safe. Something normal and benign to concentrate on. I kept listening and could hear a bird singing in a tree beside the truck.
Wait a minute. Mom normally calls when I’m away for a few hours. I tugged the phone from my pocket to check for missed calls. Nothing. I hit redial on her number. It rang about ten times before I disconnected.
Tossing the phone down on the seat, I cranked Betsy, and pulled out of the parking lot. Every stop light I came to was red. Every other street seemed to be a four-way stop. As I got closer to home, I had to detour because of a downed tree and power line.
Several small limbs and leaves littered the driveway. There was a clear spot along the curb so I parked the truck in on the street in front of the house. Before getting out of the truck, I could see the inside front door was open. That’s not unusual on a warm day, but my heart did a flip and the hair on the back of my neck raised.
Even from the porch, the house seemed far too quiet. Maybe she fell asleep in her chair and forgot to shut the door. I scanned the room as I stepped inside. If it hadn’t been for the occasional roar of a distant chainsaw, I might have been able to hear my own breathing. Mom wasn’t in her chair.
I thought better of shouting until I could survey the house. What if one of the people hunting Alex found Mom? That thought made me quicken my pace to explore the rest of the downstairs. She wasn’t in the kitchen and the door leading to the backyard was open. Glancing out the screen door, I didn’t see her in the yard.