A dog barking in the distance brought her mind back to the present. With a sigh she closed her suitcases, overnight case and picked up her shoulder bag and headed towards the stairs. There was a bus leaving in two hours. It would be tight but she didn’t want to waste a second. She had detected a warning in Jake’s voice and manner. Annette checked one more time to make sure she had her cell phone, laptop and accessories.
Annette clattered down the creaky stairs and paused in the living room doorway and stared at the up turned furniture. Other times she had cleaned up and carried on as if nothing had happened. Annette picked up their wedding portrait. The glass was shattered into a million pieces like their lives.
She looked at the remains of her hoya plant that lay among the bits and pieces of pottery scattered on the cream colored rug. Annette broke off a couple of pieces and walked through the arch that separated the living room from the old fashioned kitchen. She wrapped them in wet paper towels and placed them in a Ziploc bag. The plant had been her pride and joy with the vines climbing up the walls, towards the exposed wooden beams.
Tears filled her eyes as she stepped carefully through the debris. Annette stood as tall and straight as her five foot two frame allowed and slung her bag over her shoulder and picked up the suitcases. At the door, she took her house keys off the dream catcher key ring and flung them into the debris. Annette stepped out into the moonlit night where the police officers waited.
“I’m ready,” Annette said, as she walked down the concrete steps. “I am going to Grandfather’s ranch.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to press charges?” the female officer asked.
“No, just want to put as much distance as possible between us,” Annette answered.
“Your doing the right thing,” the male officer said, as he helped her into the car. “Too many women stay until it’s too late.”
The car weaved through traffic and they reached the bus depot in a few minutes. “Thank you for your help,” Annette said before she walked to the ticket counter. “I’ll call Grandfather in the morning to let him know when the bus gets in.”
“Where to Miss?” The clerk asked.
“One way ticket to Swift Current,” Annette answered, as she slid money through the wicket opening.
The air was filled with the sound of rustling paper as the ticket agent counted the cash and prepared a ticket. “Lane five. The bus will be boarding in twenty minutes,” he said, handing her an envelope and her change.
The air was filled with the buzz of many voices and shuffling feet as people made their way to various bus lanes. Annette stood in line behind a woman with two sleepy children, who made her smile despite herself. Every few minutes announcements blared on the loud speaker directing people to the various lanes. She sighed in relief when she boarded the bus and was on her way. Annette leaned her head wearily on the cool glass and put her hand on her tummy when she felt slight flutters.
As her stomach grumbled she realized she hadn’t eaten since noon because she had prepared a special meal to share with Jake. After a few hours she had given up trying to keep it warm and had lost her appetite. Annette had intended to tell Jake the good news over dinner. It was almost midnight when he got home in a sour mood. He complained about the shrivelled up roast and cold potatoes.
She sighed as she pulled out the ham and cheese sandwich she had purchased at the bus depot. Annette tried to drown out Jakes cruel comments and wondered if she would ever forget. She finished her sandwich and wished she had brought a pillow.
Her thoughts switched to Grandfather and the homey log cabin and wondered why she had ever left. The sound of the wheels and the gentle rocking soon lulled her into a light troubled sleep.
written by M. E. Hembroff