Copyright is held by the author.
JILL CLUTCHED the cup in both hands, relishing the heat on her fingers almost as much as the liquid contained within it. Sipping slowly, savoring the sweetness as it softly glided down her throat, she studied the latest blurb of text that brightened her screen.
More of the same.
With a soft sigh, she looked up and out of the kitchen window at the brightening sky. Only a hint of snow lingered in a few small patches nestled under the two trees lining the back fence. Upon those cold surfaces, the yellow haze of the morning light reflected. The trunks of the trees, resembling two sentinels, sprouted skyward. Studying the branches, she traced their forms as they split off in various directions, multiplying and thinning as they did so. Their skeletal structures sported signs of the buds that would soon be billowing, bringing back color to the world.
Then, a metallic ping interrupted her gaze.
Fighting the urge to look, she focused on the cup in her hands, then took another sip. A couple of awkward moments passed. Ultimately, her curiosity won over.
“Oh, when will it stop?” she wondered aloud.
Just move on.
Yes, she’d been told this. More than once over the last few months. She wanted to do it. Seriously, she did.
Why was it so difficult?
Again, the screen filled with another flurry of words demanding attention.
Jill grabbed her phone, cradling it in one hand, while the other tapped off a quick response. Once complete, she brought her finger up, hovering it over the send function.
Somewhere inside her, an inner voice perhaps, impressed upon her will one abrupt word. It repeated, each time growing in intensity until it replaced everything else.
Yes, this must stop.
This time, right now — today — would be the day. Finally, she would cleanse. Nothing could ruin this beautiful day. This, the first day of a new beginning.
She hit delete.
And he was gone.
Just like that.
With a glowing smile, she lightly placed her phone on the table in front of her, face down. With one subtle flick of her finger, she turned off its sound.
Bouncing up from her seat, she approached the front door. Swinging it open, she paused, momentarily — just long enough to take a deep breath. The freshness of the air filled her lungs, reinvigorating them after what felt like a long absence.
“It’s good to be alive,” she said, though no one was there to hear.
Stepping outside, she took three long strides across the landing, then skipped down the steps that led to the pathway out. For a second, she scanned the horizon. Then, with a sparkle in her eye, she broke into a sprint, which culminated in a series of cartwheels, each more perfect than the last, towards the warmth of the rising sun.