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Suspense

Lucy had a great evening at her friend's, Stacey’s. It was an evening of sitting on pillows on the floor around the coffee table, drinking wine and eating chocolates. Celebrity gossip turned into local gossip and before they knew it, they were discussing the deeper aspects of life. Stacey had her playlist playing softly in the background. Occasionally a song would interrupt their discussions, bringing out song and dance like they were still a couple of teenagers at a sleepover. The evening began after dinner, around seven o’clock. They were enjoying themselves so much they lost track of time. When Lucy finally looked at the clock, it was one-fifteen on a Wednesday morning, and she had to be up in six hours.


 Lucy let herself out. Tipsy, she stumbled down Stacey’s front steps, catching herself on one of the trees that line the city sidewalks for decorative purposes. “Oh, Helloooo, Mr. Tree,” she said in a silly voice, cracking herself up.


Lucy gathered her composure and took in a deep breath of cool night air. She looked up, hoping to see stars, but the light pollution was too overbearing. She put her tongue between her lips and blew, giving the world a raspberry for disappointing her. Looking around, the streets were empty, and the homes and businesses were dark. She looked back at Stacey’s door and even she had already turned off the lights. Everything was closed. There were no cars on the streets. No pedestrian traffic to blend in to. No sound except for the incessant hum of the streetlamp above. It gave Lucy an eerie feeling, but she only had four blocks to go to get home.


Lucy moves along, humming an upbeat tune that she and Stacey were singing along too as she skipped to the rhythm to distract herself. Suddenly her mind switches gears and she got a shivery chill running through her veins. Her chest felt hollow and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She paused for a moment and swore she heard footsteps stop short of her own. She wanted to turn around and look, but she was too scared. She picked up the pace. “It could just be someone as scared as me,” she thought. “Maybe putting some distance between us will put us both at ease.”


As soon as Lucy began walking, she heard the crunch of shoes on the sidewalk start up behind her. It definitely was not her imagination. As she sped up, she could tell they were keeping pace with her. She looked over her shoulder. It was a man, tall and broad wearing a stocking cap and one of those green army jackets.


“What does he want? What will he do to me?” These were the questions that ran through Lucy’s mind as her brisk pace turned into a power walk. She had heard so much about women going out alone and ending up murdered or raped or both. At the very least they were robbed. She began to wonder why she didn’t stay at Stacey’s or call her boyfriend to come get her. Then it dawned on her, she could still call him. Lucy reached into her back pocket. Her phone was gone. “I must have left it at Stacey’s,” she thought to herself.


A lump formed in her throat. Her eyes began to squint and tear. She could feel her breath shortening and she thought she was going to have a panic attack right in front of this guy. She got it together when she saw the lights on at Gino’s Café. She didn’t realize they were open so late but was thanking her lucky stars. She jogged up to the door and gave it a tug. Locked. A young woman looked up from mopping and mouthed the words closed. It was then that Lucy noticed all the chairs on the tables and the obvious sign on the door. She looked over her shoulder again and he had gained ground on her. He was holding out something black, a gun!


Lucy took off running and she could hear his feet pounding on the pavement behind her, maybe twenty yards back. She thought she would try to lose him in the alley and circle back around. She splashed through some nasty stuff, whatever drains into those alleys, as she ran. She could feel it soaking into her pants leg. She knocked over whatever she could to slow him down: trash cans, a stack of pallets, even flimsy pieces of cardboard got tossed in her hurried state. When she got to the end of the alley and looked back, he was climbing over the pallets. She stood there and watched as he stumbled through the heap. It was only when he got to the other side and saw her that she remembered to run.


Lucy circled around to the opposite alley. By that time the man had nearly caught up with her. Again, Lucy began knocking over everything she could, but there were no pallets this time. Only a stack of milk crates that the man easily kicked aside. She threw a trash can lid at his head and he batted it away. She turns onto the sidewalk and can see the steps to her house. She’s almost there. She gains a second wind and presses on harder, running faster than she ever had before. She gets to the steps and a hand from behind her grabs her shoulder. Lucy wields around screaming, “No,” swinging her fists as fast and as hard as she could.


The man shields his face and reaches into his pocket pulling out the black object. Lucy recoils, “Don’t shoot me! Please, don’t shoot me! I don’t want to die!”


“Is this yours?”


Lucy drops her arm and looks closely at what the man was holding. It was her cell phone.


“I found it a few blocks back and saw you walking off. I figured it was yours.”


Lucy smiled nervously, a little embarrassed. “Thanks,” she said, gingerly taking her phone from the stranger.


The man takes a seat on the steps, out of breath. “Geez lady, you sure don’t hit like a girl, and you run like the wind. Didn’t you hear me call you?”


Lucy laughs. “No. I’m sorry. I was so scared. You never know at this hour. I wasn’t thinking when I left my friend's place.”


“That makes sense. The name’s Ben, Ben Carpenter.”


“Lucy Heisman.”


“Oh, like the trophy?”


“Damn straight like the trophy,” she said, giving him the Heisman pose.


Ben laughs. “Now it all makes sense. Lucy, it’s nice to meet you. I know the timing is weird, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and ask for your number. Maybe we can grab coffee and laugh about how we met.”


Lucy smiled. He was handsome, and he did endure a lot just to give her phone back. She went pigeon toed thinking about being with this tall dark stranger, but said, “I have a boyfriend.”


Ben reaches into his wallet and pulls out a card. “Just in case you ever want a better one.”


And that is how Lucy met her husband, Ben. 

May 28, 2024 17:01

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5 comments

Martin Ross
16:06 Jun 05, 2024

You are so prolific while maintaining a consistently high level of quality and telling compelling, entertaining stories! Hats off to you, Ty! And I love how you turned expectations on a dime here! Nicely done!

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Kristi Gott
13:20 May 29, 2024

Suspense, then relief, and then happy ending - wonderful story arc that satisfies the reader. Good job on writing suspense that draws the reader into the main character's experience. Well done and clever ending!

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Mary Bendickson
02:52 May 29, 2024

Lots of built up tension. Glad she found a better boyfriend. Thanks for liking my 'Not Another One'. And 'Follow Me'.

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Trudy Jas
00:57 May 29, 2024

One in a million. But then that's what it takes to win that trophy.

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Alexis Araneta
17:46 May 28, 2024

Oh, what a relief !!! Great job building tension here. Lovely flow to this. Great work !

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