Her body was leaden as she stood facing the window. It wasn't him. She was sure of it. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She could not look away from the silhouette of him, not him, that man in the window.

She gasped for each breath. Her face warmed, then burned before going numb. The sounds of nighttime had all but disappeared. Thump-da-thump-da-thump-da-thump! Her heart pounded anxiously.

The sound of the pounding blared in her ears as she ran towards the house. She felt almost ethereal in movement. Fine lines of sweat ran down her face, armpits, down both legs and arms. The water drained out of her in a stream.

As she ran, the house started to slip backwards, away from her. She reached out her arms and started screaming. She could no longer see the man in the window.

She stopped running. Standing there, she watched as the house retreated further and futher away, until it finally disappeared.






What was taking so long? Maybe she was so sensitized to fear that it was crippling her, making the 8 seconds that Nate had been in the house seem like an eternity. Fear, she has found, has a way of feeding on itself. She had to move on from this, but her mind would so often go back to that night, those hands, that calm. It made her fill up.





An early morning chill caught her and she was wrested, once again, from the memory. She decided that in two more seconds and she would go in. Just then she looked up at Nate's bedroom window and saw him, a silhoutte with the darkened bedroom behind him.


it wasn't Nate.



In those long minutes as she waited for his signal, she started counting out loud.






Despite her efforts, the memories assailed her brain in fragmented pieces. Those fingertips pressing harder and harder against her throat. She had nearly marveled at how easy it was. All it took was that crushing grip, and the desire.

So this was how it was going to be, she thought. A calm had spread over her just moments before a nearly superhuman strength. And then -

As quickly as it had begun, it had ended. She could rejoin the world. She was not a victim but a survivor. Pick up the pieces. Move on. Things will get better with time. You have nothing to fear but fear itself.

And on.








Graph 4: Road Trip

2:00 AM, Saturday morning.

We decided to leave at this hour to beat the Memorial Day weekend traffic. So far, pretty good. Only a few drunks spotted weaving back and forth, breaking at awkward moments. But, that was back in the city. Now on this desolate road paved seaside, we are the only cars viewable for miles. Although the moon glows a bright sky on the water visible in quick glimpses through thick forest, the absence of streetlights spans a darkened path ahead for miles. Brights are necessary.

40 miles to go.

I glance in the rearview mirror. He’s still there. The body of his car camouflaged by the night, he’s only headlights to me now.

Thirty minutes later, gravel crackles beneath the Jeep’s tires, and the Honda follows in sound and light, but is still lingering in darkened sight. We ascend for a few minutes then catch the quick turn into the driveway with the ease of familiarity.

Nate accelerates, slipping into the spot beside me, having been a watchful eye behind for the entire trip. I remain seated, rolling down the window for a well-traveled welcome kiss.

Ignition off. Sigh of relief. Emerging from the Jeep, my legs loosen their stiff driving stance and are chilled by the early morning breeze. I hear Nate saunter up the front porch, and recognize the snug slamming of the screen door. As his footsteps retreat into the foyer, I wait those few minutes needed for him to check out the house and lighten it to waking.

Bagged down with weekend belongings, I look for his all-clear signal. His blinking of his childhood bedroom’s light.

I wait.