Flash Fiction,  Human Condition

Fred

The only thing that glittered more than the road were the tears on Laura’s cheeks, sparkling ethereal in the moonlight on a midnight drive to nowhere. She blinked hard. The visibility out here was shit and the cut above her left eye was bleeding again. Her headlights cut through the gloom the way a flashlight cuts through murky water, which was to say, not well at all. Her engine roared. The windshield wipers on their fastest setting couldn’t clear her view. She willed herself to slow down, but couldn’t. He’d catch up to her. She glanced away from the road for a moment to check her rear-view mirror. No headlights. She eased off the gas, but only slightly. She didn’t escape her husband only to die on this road. 

Laura felt tears sting her neck and reached up, hissing as she touched the friction burn. If she hadn’t been able to get her fingers between her skin and the rope he’d wrapped so tightly, he would have taken her life. She packed the night before and Terry happened to glance in the back seat of her car. How could she have been so stupid? If she’d only filled the trunk she would have been half way across the province before he noticed she was gone. She squinted away tears, peering out on the rain soaked highway. She reached toward the passenger side for the pack of tissues she kept in the glove box. Wet rocks peppered the wheel well as she drifted onto the shoulder, then jerked the wheel back toward the road.  

She wondered if he still lay on the kitchen floor where she left him when scrambling out the door. It was luck, really. He hit his head, hard, on their marble countertop when he slipped on her blood reaching for the knife block. 

With one hand in a white-knuckled grip on the wheel and the other dabbing tears from her swollen neck, Laura sped on. She looked into the rearview mirror. Two black beady eyes stared at her, attached to a slumped yellow body on top of a duffel bag in the back seat. It was Fred. Fred, the stuffed yellow dog with brown ears that she’d had since she was 8 months old. He’d gone everywhere with her. She’d squeezed him every time her father came home like a whiskey powered hurricane to throw her mother around the kitchen. And those nights when he’d come into her room late at night and—oh God, she’d sworn she wouldn’t make the same mistakes as her mother! 

She sobbed and closed her eyes, accelerating into rain, and a telephone pole. Moments later, headlights appeared behind her.

Featured photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

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