By Lisa J. Shorts.
Blades of sharp, wet grass nettled between my bare toes as I stood dumbfounded, supporting my right arm at the elbow, trembling with fear on the mottled, unkempt lawn. The tissue-thin, cotton t-shirt I wore did nothing to protect me from the frigid mist saturating the night air. Trembling turned to convulsive shaking as the pain set in and my mind unravelled.
10pm, the first coherent thought I could pluck out of the shrapnel left behind by a shattered peace.
Move, said a tiny, distant voice.
No, answered my limbs.
You have to get out of the cold, said the tiny voice. Can’t move, said my limbs.
Builders no longer routinely installed doors as heavy as the one in front of me. There was no weak crack made by cheaper hollow doors. No, this door had to be sealed tight when closed, and then pressed tight again while locking. But he had done it. He’d closed the door so hard that it made that sick, angry sound, followed by the unmistakeable clicking of an old deadbolt.
My keys, another coherent thought. After a minute, the unravelling slowed. Get your keys. Only five steps to the door. The door was still locked and my keys were inside.
Cold and terror had turned my legs into marbled pillars, mottled red and heavy.
The neighbors, another fragment that made some sense. They won’t call the police. Priorities had realigned as I stood frozen in the front yard. Terror had mushroomed and with every blast of blood through my temples, anger mushroomed with it. I seethed. All of the fragments began to coalesce into a single, purposeful thought.
You will not survive this if you stay.