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Short Read

An opening scene written for a writer I was mentoring in 2016, to help explain the concept of "show, don't tell" in fiction craft. I've kept it because I have long sensed there is more story here that needs to be told. One day.

Overlooking the Mist

    There should be a word for this feeling. I shifted to prop my head on my elbow to relieve the crick in my neck I’d gotten from staring. The mattress creaked and moaned like the old man I felt like, but Rebecca hardly stirred. There is something incredible but intimidating about watching a woman sleep. Trusting you completely. Loves you enough to keep waking up to your bad breath and bed head every morning. I wanted to turn the lamp on. Wanted to really see her. This woman who shares my life, my name, and my bed. But waking her would kill the moment, so I remained still. Forced myself to make do with the light filtering through the blinds from the floodlights in the back yard. Rebecca had been against them, the massive floodlights on all corners of our house, and the cost of the state of the art alarm system. But she didn’t know everything that I knew about the man I’d been before I met her and she changed everything for me. Everything.

    If I stared at her any longer, I’d end up waking her for sure. On purpose. Starting with a kiss and ending with me gasping for breath and lying spent in her arms. But she had an early shift at the hospital and if I didn’t hurry up and finish her birthday gift soon, she’d be unwrapping a half-finished model car next Saturday. So I did the adulty thing instead and slid from beneath the sheets and into some jeans, still without waking her. The woman slept like a baby. Not that I’d know or anything, because kids were still an occasional uncomfortable conversation for us, not little people sleeping in the other rooms. Not for lack of trying though.

    I bounded down the carpeted stairs, grabbed a can of Coke from the fridge, and then flipped the lights on in the garage. I pulled my scale model and box of glue and paints from their hiding spot under the tool box and set up shop on the worktable. A ’69 Mustang. Her dream car. Hopefully by this time next year, I’d be blindfolding her and leading her into this very room to lay eyes on the real thing. Complete with one of those giant bows and everything.

    Halfway through my Coke and a full on neck ache later, all that remained was to glue the tiny steering wheel to the tiny steering column to complete the interior.

    That’s when I heard it.

    So faint I prayed to God I’d imagined it as I cocked my head, every muscle tensing.

    Now that I was listening for it, Rebecca’s second scream ripped right through me.

    It took two seconds to get the Glock I kept tucked behind the dryer into my hands. It took less than a second to chamber a round and start sprinting for the bedroom.

    They’d found me.

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