Creative Writing

Away | A Short Story

“Why did you walk away?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Terry tore his green eyes away from hers and stared at the ground.

They were standing outside his house. He had come outside only to hear Mia call his name. Terry froze, watching her stalk up to him. She was two heads shorter, but that didn’t stop her short legs from crossing the street and closing the distance between them.

She drew her lips together in a tight line. Mia shook her head, making her ponytail swing left and right. Her dark hair was cut short, though it had grown since he last seen her. “You haven’t changed one bit.”

He opened his mouth to say something but then closed it.

“Why can’t you just give me an answer?” Mia paused. “Then I’ll go away.”

Terry couldn’t help but snort. “Oh really? It seems like you can’t leave me alone.”

A flash of anger crossed her face. “Because I want to know how the hell you could just walk away like that.”

“I used my legs.”

She squeezed her eyes shut before opening them. “Funny.”

“Look, I don’t owe you anything.”

Mia’s lips parted. “No, you don’t. But I thought maybe, just maybe you had the decency to explain why you left.”

“Then you thought wrong.” Terry fished for his car keys in his pocket, trying to send a message to her that he had somewhere to be.

“I guess I did.”

“Good. Are we done here? Because if we are, I have places to go, people to see.”

He expected her to get mad. Instead Mia frowned. “You don’t have to worry about seeing me around anymore.”

“So you’re finally going to leave me alone?”

“Yes.” She hesitated for a second. “We’re moving away.”

Terry didn’t expect that. His eyes widened, but she didn’t seem to notice his surprise.

Mia tilted her head up to stare at the sky. Gray clouds covered the sun.

“Bye Terry.”

He watched her walk away before getting into his car and driving off.

Despite what he said to her, Terry didn’t exactly have anywhere to go. There was no one he needed to see. So he drove aimlessly around the city he grew up in. Everything was familiar. On this ride, however, he noticed things he never noticed before.

Whenever he was tired of staying at home, he liked to take his car and drive without a destination in mind. Even though driving required focus and concentration, it relaxed Terry. He found that he was less tense. His fingers gripped the wheel lightly as he tapped his foot on the gas or pressed on the brake with his other foot.

But five minutes in and Terry realized his body was still tight. His muscles were tense. Glancing down, he saw his knuckles had turned white. Even his fingernails weren’t a normal pink nude but tinted purple as though blood wasn’t circulating to his fingers. Terry tried to loosen his grip on the steering wheel. Occasionally he steered with just one hand, but today he had both hands on the wheel like he was learning to drive for the first time. One at nine o’clock, the other at three.

At one point he tasted blood in his mouth. Terry glanced at the rear view mirror only to realize he had been biting on his lower lip and now it was bleeding. His dry lips cracked at the center and the corners.

He tried to use his tongue to clean the blood off his lips, and wondered if he made the situation worse.

His mind replayed the conversation with Mia. And countless others.

Like the time they first met.

And the day they stayed up late at night, talking about their plans for the future.

But the one that stuck out the most was the day he decided to walk away.

They were talking outside her house. And when her phone rang, he made her answer it. She refused at first, but ultimately, Mia gave in. Then Terry decided to walk away. She noticed, called after him. But he had gotten a good enough head start that even though she tried running after him, it was no use. Terry didn’t look back. He never returned any of her phone calls.

Now when he looked outside his tinted car window, he didn’t recognize the buildings. He was in a different, unfamiliar part of town.

The buildings appeared to be falling apart and in need of repairs. The roads had large pot holes. Every time he came across one, he braced himself for the jolt. There were less cars on the streets and fewer people on the sidewalks, so it was relatively quiet.

Terry had the windows up. He tinkered with the radio, searching for a station that played music he liked. But he found static. After listening to static for a few minutes, he switched it off and drowned the car in silence again.

Terry leaned back in his seat, removed both hands off the wheel, and closed his eyes.

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