Jessy slid into the seat and stared at the seatback in front of her for a moment before clamping her eyes shut. The events of the past month played back in her mind like a theatrical drama set at hyper-accelerated speed. It left her feeling nauseous and as the Uber lurched forward the contents of her stomach threatened to find a new home on her lap.
“In through the nose. Hold. Now out through the mouth.” Jessy followed the words whispered by the nearly forgotten voice.
She listened to the voice and tried to block everything but the instructions.
“Breath. Deep inhalations. Hold for a count of three. On the exhale imagine the tension leaving your body.”
As the Uber lurched and jerked through the streets, bringing her closer to her destination, Jessy sat and focused on her breath. The tumultuous sensations running between her stomach and her mind eased, but she kept her eyes closed. The Uber sped on, hurling her into an ambiguous future.
Calmer now, she let her mind wander to the multitude of scenarios she had constructed. None of them involved a warm welcome. She doubted she was wrong.
The din of the city seeped through the window and wound around the soft voice that kept her breathing. Suddenly, Jessy knew right where she was. Left turn. Down the block. Third stop sign and the Uber eased to the right before coming to a stop. She opened her eyes and gazed at the brownstone. Not a single detail had changed since she had left, except it looked smaller than she remembered.
Jessy paid the driver, checked the email receipt, grabbed her purse and opened the car door. A rush of frigid Chicago air assaulted her as she stepped from the car and left her gasping. The driver tossed the luggage onto the sidewalk and headed back to the warmth of the driver’s seat. Jessy crunched over frosty half frozen and slushy snow to stand next to almost everything she owned.
She watched as the Uber pulled into the street and disappeared around the corner. Jessy pulled her coat tight around her neck. She glanced at the door wondering if she should leave the luggage and go ring the bell or lug them to the door. As she reached for the handle of the bag closest to her, she heard the unmistakable sucking sound the screen door made when the heavy front door opened. The screen door creaked, and the windowpane rattled as the door inched outward.
The words that echoed off every frozen surface in the neighborhood chilled her more than the biting wind.
“Are you just going to stand there, or are you going to get that crap off the sidewalk?”
“Welcome home,” Jessy said to the pile of luggage as she gathered up various handles and straps. She half carried half drug her burden along the sidewalk, up the thirteen steps and caught her elbow in the narrowly propped open screen door. After squeezing and shoving the luggage past the threshold, she stepped inside. The door slammed shut behind her, and the quiet Chicago cold engulfed the neighborhood once more.
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer