Amelia dodged the potholes of a heartless Minnesota spring, coasting past his address as if piloting a hearse. Rounding the corner, her faded, black Ford Taurus sped up the hill overlooking his property. She parked her makeshift crow’s nest and positioned her binoculars. Bingo. OCD routine intact, Don sauntered to his classic Volvo and wiped a flee-sized smudge from its hood before driving off.
******The memory of him, serving her coffee in bed, stung like a territorial hornet. His words tumbled into her mind, “Booked our usual weekend tee-times at Fox Run. Have a good day, honey.” She’d cringed at the gentle click of the door latch; then bolted from bed to spend the day milking every second of freedom like a famished kitten.
******Amelia edged her Taurus into the carport. Crunch, crunch, crunch. The familiar sound of tires grinding gravel triggered latent qualms and a cold sweat seeped from her armpits. Yet the instinct to retrieve her life burned. Making her way to the front door she tripped over the old oak’s knobby tree-flare root, as she’d done a thousand times.
******Her shaky hand met with an unlocked door. New lover? Already? She breached the entryway. A blanched woman in her sixties, wearing a dress with the logo, “Maid-in-America,” was washing dishes in the horseshoe kitchenette.
******“Oh, sorry. I used to live here. Don said I could come grab my stuff. Only be a minute.”
******Cleaning lady’s body stiffened into an unnatural pose, eyes glazed, like a Macy’s mannequin.
******Amelia was scrounging around the house like a thief when Don returned. With the tone of a novice drill-sergeant Don said, “Amelia. Leave. Now.” He swung the door wide open.
******She breezed through a fog of whiskey-and-weed breath, escaping to her car.
******A maelstrom of pride and despair paralyzed forward movement. Blue and red strobes suddenly flashed across pewter clouds hugging the horizon. Squad cars yelped towards the neighborhood, like killer whales triangulating their prey.
******What was once a quaint hamlet was now a blustering maze; and she, a rat, tethered to confusion and denial.
******Amelia’s nerves vibrated with the velocity of harp strings plucked by the devil. Her mind juggled the restraining order she’d just broken, hunting rifle in her trunk, plate-glass wall of the county jail cell, nail-chewing cell-mate mumbling rap, the hazardous affair with Don—a tight-lipped programmer by day, and a Charlie Parker wannabe by night.
******Her thirty-something-self had vowed to be leery of Don-like-dudes with a Napoleon complex. And who, instead of cultivating actual friends, collected drinking buddies and golf partners, as she collected vinyl. Nonetheless, desperate daiquiris in a tavern of loneliness, bred a Don relationship—and it stewed for months in a sweet-and-sour broth of contempt.
******Buckets of dimpled notions spun in Amelia’s brain, like golf balls churning in a ball-washer on a holiday weekend—Nineteenth hole of inflated egos…Fairway to court…Hitting fat legal fees…Reputation in the rough…Self-esteem, sliced into the bunker…Eagle Run Golf Club…Wolf Run Golf Club…Fox Run…Prison Run…Amelia…Run.
Ann Marie Struck created “My4Sense” in 2011 to share her fiction, poetry, reviews, photography, and insights harvested from past lives as bartender and attorney. Since entering contests in 2021, her work has been long-listed and earned honorable mention. She’s published on SpillWords.com. When the planets align, Ann will release her debut novel into the wild. Ann lives with her husband in Florida where she swims laps, concocts delicacies and bakes potent pumpernickel baguettes.
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