Rea counted them every day. One by one, and slowly by slowly, they went away.
It was early January. Snow fell in sheets, dotting the world around her. The sun had already faded, leaving the sky with a bright flash of white.
Rea pulled her coat tighter around her and pulled her muted green beanie low on her head, shielding her locks of copper from the harsh climate around her. She pushed on, walking through street after street, block after block, with no intended destination.
Tomorrow she’d be here again and it would be 100 days. 100 days since that horrible day happened. It felt like eternity though.
No trial date had been set yet. In fact, she hadn’t heard anything about this in a while. The news had been eerily quiet. Eerily quiet for 99 days.
Day 34 had been the day news broke about a murdered man in the woods. Lean, white male, mid 40s. Copper hair, brown eyes to match. Some might say he even resembled Rea. Blunt force trauma to the head. Tragic incident. Should've never happened.
Day 67 had been the day she ran away. 17 and on the run. Her family still at home, her boyfriend still hoped she would call back, her friends wondered where she could’ve gone.
Most people didn’t talk to Rea. She kept to herself, and people kept away from her, but really she was keeping away from everyone else on purpose. No one could suspect a thing. Just a normal girl doing normal things by herself.
Rea turned the corner and immediately stepped back before her foot hit the asphalt. A car zoomed past the stop sign and didn’t look twice. Her hair unraveled from within her coat and whipped across her face as she stumbled and ended up on her bottom. If Rea wasn’t paying attention she could’ve been killed. Like the man in the woods.
Out of breath from shock, she slowly got back on her feet and dusted the snow off her jeans. She readjusted her backpack on her shoulder and looked both ways down the street before she continued walking along the crosswalk.
Her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and stared at the screen. Her boyfriend’s face lit up above the words ‘incoming call’ . A knot formed in her chest and her heart started to race. Even the sight of her old life made her regret running away.
She pressed the red button and the screen went dark again. She stayed there staring at the blank screen until a car blew its horn and startled her. She looked up to see she’d stopped in the middle of the street and someone was impatiently waiting on her to move. She put her hand up and hurried across to the other side of the street, leaving snowy footprints trailing behind her. When the car zoomed past her, a woman in the car flipped her off with a gloved hand and pedaled the gas to speed off.
Rea knew separating herself from the ones she loved most was going to break their hearts, if it hadn’t already. But she needed to get away. She knew what she had done. She knew if she stayed there in that dreaded town she’d go crazy. If she stayed in that house with him another day she’d go insane. She knew if anyone found out, anyone at all, her life was done.
She’d thought about going back many times. 99 days full of memories and missed moments. But it wasn’t her that was holding her back. It was the trial. The final judgement. The decision that would determine whether she’d live. The decision that would determine whether she could go back to her family and be happy again.
She’d made so many promises. To her mom. Her little brother and sister. Her boyfriend. Her best friend. Her dog. So many promises. She’d never leave them. She was there whenever they needed her. If ever anyone was in trouble, she’d be the first to look for them. But who would look for her. Who had looked for her? No one. Because if they did she wouldn’t still be thousands of miles away in another state living alone.
These thoughts flooded her mind, whispering over one another. There was another sound that trumped all the noise. A siren. More than one, screaming down the street. Rea whipped her head around to see two police cars speeding past the stop sign.
This was it. The police had found her. Her life was over. Soon, they’d arrest her for homicide. Murder of a man who looked just like Rea. Murder of a man who happened to be Rea’s father.
She closed her eyes and braced herself for the sound of slamming car doors and policemen telling her to put her hands up. She played a scene in her mind where dozens of police officers, guns drawn, shot at her once she tried to run away.
Wind rushed through her hair as they sped past her, sirens slowly fading down to a dull, distant racket.
They weren’t coming for her. They didn’t know what she did. And as long as she stayed hidden, they’d never know she’d killed her father.
Judgement day would come for her even if the police didn’t.
I hope they’re getting the crazy man who almost ran me over, Rea thought bitterly, and kept walking. Day 99 wasn’t the day, but soon another day could be.
She’d just have to keep walking.