Invisible Menace

[First Draft]

As I step off the bus, I’m relieved to see mom’s car is not in the driveway. I know this only delays the inevitable, but for now, I’m safe.

I unlocked the front door and push it through the silence that waits on the other side. Something is wrong. I drop my book bag by the door as I close it behind me. “Mima?”

The house is silent. At the foot of the stairs, I call up to the second floor, “Mima?” Again, the house is silent. I go to the kitchen, but no one is there, either. Then I see the note on the refrigerator:

Amber,

Taking your grandmother to the hospital. I’ll call when I know more.

Mom

I feel my heart crumple like a wad of paper about to be discarded. Call me when she knows more? How could she just dismiss me like that? Know more about what? What was she trying to protect me from? That was so like her, trying to control everything: even information.

I retrieve my cell phone from my backpack and hit speed dial one. Naturally, I get her voice mail. I try to keep my voice calm. It trembles as I hold back my accusations. “Mom, I just found your note. Is everything ok? What happened to mima?” I hit end call, my hands shaking. I hit speed dial two. Dad’s cell phone goes directly to voice mail, too. This time, I don’t bother to leave a message. I feel smothered in systematic isolation.

The panic begins to set in again. I try to make excuses for why they will not answer, until the excuses become even more frightening than the idea of simple neglect. I need a distraction, and studying is not going to work.

I go to my room and change into my running gear. I need to push myself. I need to exhaust the energy that threatens to rip my mind apart. I jog back down the stairs and once outside, I make a half-hearted attempt to stretch before launching into a run.

I’m not a distance runner. I’m a sprinter. As a competition rider, I am methodical and controlled. As a runner, I have one objective, to feel the high of pushing past my limits. For me, running is not about endurance, it’s about adrenaline.

The crisp fall air chills my lungs as I follow the horse path I had taken the day before. I feel the muscles fatiguing as I push for more speed. I know the resistance won’t last long. I keep pushing. Suddenly, there it is. The fatigue suddenly vanishes and my legs move beneath me like disembodied limbs. My heart pounding against my chest, I suck air in and out like oxygenated fuel. My pulse pounds through my ears in time with my footsteps crunching through the autumn leaves. Smash, crunch, pulse. Smash, crunch, pulse. Smash, crunch, pulse. Smash, Smash, Smash. Suddenly, I realize that I am not alone.

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