ESCAPE, Dead End
Abby breathed slowly, trying to calm her pulse. She sat with her legs crossed under her in a small clearing in the forest. A bead of sweat trickled down her brow despite the crisp morning temperature.
This is supposed to help? she thought to herself.
It did when she was moving. Forty-five minutes of intense yoga occupied her mind and forced her to concentrate on her breathing, on getting through the pain.
Although her bullet wound had healed several months ago, each time she stretched her arms above her head it felt as though the muscles were tearing all over again. The pain alone was enough to make her break a sweat.
The pain was good. The sweat was good. It kept her mind occupied more than yoga ever could.
Sitting on a bed of fallen leaves, birds chirping all around her in the early dawn, she closed her eyes and let her mind momentarily wander. As it often did, it wandered to Eric.
She saw him smile as he told her, “I love you, too. Now go!” That was the last thing he ever said to her.
Almost, she reminded herself.
The absolute last thing he ever said came just a few moments later as he desperately screamed her name, “ABBY!” seconds before her ex-husband’s car slammed into him as he shoved her out of the way. The car had been gunning for her. She should have been the one taking the full force of the hit. Thanks to Eric it only clipped her and broke her leg.
Just breathe, she reminded herself, counting her breaths and attempting to clear her mind. It will help.
And yet, she watched helplessly in her mind’s eye as two tons of steel rammed into the love of her life at sixty miles per hour. His head smashed into the windshield and his neck snapped in slow motion.
In and out. In and out. Feel the anger leave your body.
His body sailed over the roof of the car, thrown ten feet in the air by the impact.
Breathe out, Abby… breathe out…
He seemed to float in the air for an eternity as she watched, horrified, unable to do a thing.
His body struck the earth with a thud.
Finally, Abby gasped for air. She had relived this scene a thousand times, and the pain in her heart never eased no matter how many times she saw it. Her eyes snapped open, confused for a moment, forgetting she was meditating in nature.
Bursting into tears, she slapped herself hard across the face and scolded her weakness “Get a grip on yourself!”
Closing her eyes again, she listened to the birds sing their morning song. A woodpecker worked on his latest project near the top of a tall pine. A squirrel nibbled on acorns at the base of the oak to her left.
Eric smiled at her, “I love you, too. Now go!”
As her tear-filled eyes forced themselves open, she lifted her face to the sky and let out a scream that silenced every living thing it touched. The birds fell silent and the squirrel scampered away as her cry echoed through the forest.
Abby put her face in her hands and screamed again, “THIS IS BULLSHIT!”
Jumping up, she grabbed a thick branch from the ground and slammed it into the trunk of a tree over and over again. She ignored the fire building in her shoulder and battered the tree until the branch shattered in her hands, leaving her palms cut and bleeding.
“Fuck this,” she said as she threw the remnants of the branch to the ground and marched back to her cabin.
Abby was as surprised as anyone about this place she currently called home. Like most visitors to the region, she thought of the American Northeast as densely populated, with city stacked upon city. Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey were home to some of the most packed cities in America.
However, it turned out that there is far more country than city in the Northeast. Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and most of New York lay beyond the city lights. Millions of acres worth of forests and farmlands spread across the region. Massive swathes of Maine remain as foreign to some Northeasterners as the deltas of the Mississippi.
Nestled deep within a few hundred acres of privately owned forest was the facility Abby called home. For now, she reminded herself.
Once the hospital stabilized her, after having nearly died from the gunshot wound and having a severely broken leg, Robert arranged to have her moved to a private rehab facility in the middle of nowhere. Discretion was the law around here. Without it, the facility would quickly go out of business, and it was too profitable a business to surrender.
It was where people who didn’t want to be bothered went to get better. The massive private fees paid by its patrons bought not only the best care possible, but also the guaranteed silence of everyone they met.
If anyone Abby came into contact with actually knew who she was, they never let on.
The leg break was a tough one, but Abby was determined to work through it as fast as possible. Her tibia was broken in two places. They were both clean breaks given the car’s high speed, but it was still six months before she could walk comfortably without feeling significant pain. She continued to push herself hard, and at eight months, was back to running every morning.
The leg was nothing compared to getting shot, however. It felt like it was yesterday, a pain much worse than she had ever imagined it could be. It was like being punched incredibly hard as a searing, white-hot fire engulfed the wound.
She had been lucky in that the bullet missed major vessels and organs, but it still severely impacted her left side. It hit above her left breast, an inch in from the shoulder. Given the angle, the surgeon said she was lucky it didn’t shatter her shoulder blade. Fortunately the 9 mm round didn’t make it all the way through. It did a number on her muscle structure, though.
The rehab staff was impressed with her commitment – she just about lived in the gym, weight training, stretching, doing everything she could to move things along. Doctors expected Abby to stay in residence for about a year, half as long as an average person, thanks to her work ethic and strict regimen. Abby, however, was not motivated by the idea of getting better. She pushed herself because she never forgot what was at the end of it all for her: Revenge.
And the time for that was drawing near.
ESCAPE, Dead End
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