A to Z Challenge — Aftermath — #AtoZChallenge 

Yellow house at night with the porch light on.
Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash

The final bag whizzed past Keagan’s left thigh and landed with a thump on the cracked cement driveway. Just clothes, nothing breakable. The heavy wood door behind her slammed shut, and the deadbolt clunked into place.

“Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” The words, muffled by the heavy wooden door, lost their bite. Hurled arrows aimed at weakening her resolve came far too late to have their desired effect.

One by one, each downstairs light flicked off, and Keagan heard heavy footsteps. They tread on the worn pink cabbage rose carpet covering the narrow staircase. She felt every nick in the white-painted banister the way her shoulder slammed into the wall as she turned on the tiny landing and the smooth brass doorknob that only stayed latched when you jiggled it.

They are in the past now.

She squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, descended the front porch steps as if she were already someone, and released the screen door. It creaked, echoing the same protest she had heard a million times before it slammed and bounced in the warped jamb. The familiar sound accompanied so many memories. Heated words, accusations, and ultimatums ended punctuated with its creak and bang.

Hours later, a softer, more tentative squeak and thud heralded a barrage of pleading lies, false promises, and bankrupt vows. Belief and hope melted into agony and desperation, and a swirling eddy of dark desolation threatened to consume her. Despite her every attempt, no matter how hard she tried, nothing was ever right. And the repeating cycle left her numb, uncaring, suffocating.

None of it matters now.

Drowning people fight for each precious, life-sustaining breath. Life or death confronted her. She faced her moment of truth and declared war. Small, secret, defiant warfare, with tiny victories, gave her courage to conceive a starting point that began with goodbye. “You’ll never make it alone. Go ahead, throw your life away. You’ll come crawling back. You’re nothing without me.”

Keep moving.

She stepped outside the warm pool of light cast by the glaring, naked bulb protecting the timid from the dangerous night terrors. There was no hesitation when she took the last stride into the unknown. Her eyes adjusted to an alternate reality, and she found herself standing under a canopy of blazing stars. They twinkled, sang, and beckoned with pledges of wonders greater than anything she imagined.

In the aftermath, a sparkling soul opened fledgling wings. Freedom filled her lungs, and she flew.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

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