I’m running.  Faster than I’ve ever run before.  The only thing is I don’t know what I’m running from or where I’m headed.   All I can hear are my own heavy footsteps and my breaths coming fast and frantically.

                I wake up in a cold sweat and twisted sheets, wondering where I could have possibly been. I roll over and glance at the clock.  It’s three-thirty, and I have to be at work by seven.  I know I won’t be able to go back to sleep, so I get up and throw on a pair of worn jeans and a hoodie over my tank top. 

                My mother is sleeping on the couch, a beer bottle laying empty on the rug beside her.  I don’t bother leaving her a note telling her where I am.  She won’t care.  I trudge down the stairs, and out the front door of our crappy apartment building.  The stars are sparkling brighter than they have in a long time, as I breathe in the autumn air.

                I am telling myself that this will be the only time I go back.  I need to calm down; to get out.  In fifteen minutes, I see the theatre a few blocks ahead.  It’s still dark and deserted, but it seems welcoming somehow. 

                “What are you doing?”

                I jump and turn around quickly.  The goal was for this to be a solitary journey.  It wasn’t working out that way.  I see the familiar tall frame standing in the doorway of a shop by the diner.  “Will?”  He has got to stop scaring me like this.

                “Yeah, it’s me.  What are you doing out this late? It’s not safe.”

                “Who are you to tell me what’s safe or not?”  He has no right to act like he cares.

                “I’m just looking out for you.”  His face is hurt. 

                “I don’t need you to look out for me.”  I regret the words the minute I’ve said them.  “I-I’m sorry, Will-“

                “No, I get it.  You don’t want anything to do with me.  That’s fine.”  But I know it’s not. 

                He starts walking in the opposite direction of the theatre.  Away from me.   “Will, wait-“

                “What do you want, Cally?”  I’m stunned at the harshness of his words.

                “I’m sorry I’ve been so...mean to you-“

                “Cally, since I met you yesterday, I’ve done nothing but try to be nice to you, and I don’t get why you can’t-“

                “I know,” I say.

                “Then why are you doing it?”  His eyes are searching my face.

                “I—don’t know.  Can you walk me home?” He looks at me warily, contemplating whether or not to take me up on that.

                “Ok,” he says skeptically, and we turn and head back the way I’d come.  Halfway down the block I shiver from the cold.

                “Here,” Will says, shrugging  out of his jacket and putting it around my shoulders.

                I’m about to protest, but think better of it. “Thanks,” I say, smiling up at him.  I’m not used to someone being so generous to me.  His jacket is cozy and warm, and it smells good.   

                “No problem,” he says, and we continue down the sidewalk. 

                Once we reach the apartment, I’m amazed that he doesn’t say anything.  I was expecting him to be surprised at the crappiness of it, but if he is, he’s doing a good job of hiding it.

                We stop on the sidewalk outside the front door.  He turns to me and says, “When can I see you again, Cally?”

                “I—I get off work at four tomorrow…today actually.” 

                “Do you want to meet me at the theatre?”  I’m surprised that he would even want to see me again.

                “Yeah, sure. See you then.”  I spin around and head inside, forgetting to give him his jacket.


The End

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