Nothing could happen to her in the daylight, this one thing she had convinced herself of as a possibility. It had been six months since the attack and today, Megan Carrigan was ready to take another step forward in her healing. A jog out in the park might be beneficial to her mentally and definitely, physically. She always loved to run, a passion that she had discovered with cross-country track back in high school. That passion, like most everything else that made her smile, died one October night.
Trauma is a wonderful thing. It sometimes makes one forget the “meat” of whatever tragedy they were was forced to consume. Megan remembers a man’s shape in the alleyway and then, the emergency room afterwards. Everything else was a distorted echo. The experience paused her life and Megan became a living shell of herself.
She finished stretching her calve-muscles, which like every other muscle in her body became stiff with atrophy. A vacant jogging path awaited her, devoid of people on this April morning. The first few sprints became familiar to her. Patterns of past acts returned like a reflex being hit. The crisp-air filled her nostrils and her eyes glistened with that old endorphin spark of activity as she picked up her pace.
She approached the entrance-way to the north-side bridge, hitting her full stride as she started to run through it. Then, ten feet past the exit, she came to a dead stop.
Just outside the bridge, cast upon the ground was a shadow. Not just any shadow, Megan thought but, his shadow.
The slow building wave of anxiety began to consume Megan’s thoughts.
“How did he find me?? This can’t be!!”
Darkness calmed her as she closed her eyes for a mere moment. She thought of summers at the beach with her folks growing up. How the water would tickle her toes as waves rolled over her feet.
She opened her eyes, took a deep breath and ran at out of the tunnel like a woman on fire. When she reached a certain distance and felt strong enough to look back, Megan saw it was in fact a police officer walking his beat up on the bridge. Not him, at all.
Her legs became rejuvenated with relief as she continued to run through the park. She had beaten the devil’s shadow for now, realizing that this constant battle to reclaim her life would always be lurking wherever she ran.
Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction 37