Diane turned the page of her latest novel with wide eyes and her lips moving quickly, but with no sound. Her eyes darted across the page from left to the right eagerly wanting to turn the page again. She slouched down in her lounge chair, propping her feet up on the chair next to her.
Her husband, Josh, sat on the opposite side of the table with his laptop in front of him. He eyed Diane trying not to laugh.
“You’re making funny faces again.” He observed.
“Shush!” Diane said sharply. Her eyes did not leave the page and only paused for a split second to the turn the page once more.
A breeze blew by and Diane slapped her hand on the table to keep her bookmark from flying away as she continued to read.
Josh closed his laptop and leaned his elbows on it. He smirked at his wife. “I take it I picked out a good book to give you for your birthday?”
“Shush!” she said more harshly.
Josh rubbed his lips together trying to hold in his laughter.
A robin swooped down from their roof and landed on top of the umbrella that shielded them and most of the deck. Josh stood up from the table and looked up at the bird. He smiled. Spring was officially here.
“Diane, look! It’s a robin and she’s looking pretty plump.”
Josh lifted an eyebrow at his wife. He hadn’t seen her get this excited over a book in a long time.
Finally, he walked off the back deck and reached the hose.
“Diane, I’m not afraid to use this. I’ve done it before.” Josh smirked. Whenever Diane was in the middle of the good book, it was difficult for Josh to get her attention. He sprayed a mist over her one time and it freaked her out so whenever he got the hose, Diane would immediately look up at him.
This time, she blatantly ignored him.
“One, two…” Josh counted in whispers as he slowly turned on the water. “Three…”
He put the nozzle on mist on the hose and sprayed Daine laughing. The robin flew away in frenzy, but Diane didn’t bat an eyelash. She only turned to the next page in her book.
Josh chuckled to himself thinking that he would be funny. He set the nozzle on an actual spray to get Diane wet enough, but not soaked—he kept in mind his laptop was right there.
“One, two…” Josh counted once more.
Diane slammed her book closed and grinned widely at her husband. “I finished!”
The hose turned on and Diane squealed.
Daniel put his car in park and leaned back in the driver’s seat. He gazed out the window across the quiet street and bit his bottom lip. Should he leave? He thought about it. It wasn’t right for him to be there, but he was being pulled there by a greater force.
He reached forward and took the keys out of the ignition. He would sit there and pretend that he belonged there just like everyone else.
Daniel twisted his neck to the left and right. There was no one else around yet. He glanced at his wrist watch and groaned. He was fifteen minutes too early. Why couldn’t he have been that early before? Why couldn’t he be that early all the time? Then there was a chance he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
He made drumming sounds by patting his hands on his thighs and bopped his head from one side to the other side. He started whistling a fancy tune he came up with right on the spot before stopping abruptly with his lips still pursed together. His shoulders slumped and he cleared his throat almost as if he was embarrassed someone was watching.
What time was it again? He looked at his watch. Oh… ten more minutes.
Daniel looked around his car and scrunched up his face in disgust. He hadn’t realized what a mess his car was until now. He wasn’t about to get out and start cleaning, though. He would have to wait until he got home because he didn’t have anything left to do now.
He was going to finally have time to clean his car because work was one less thing he needed to worry about. Sure, he wouldn’t be getting a paycheck each week, but at least he could spend those work hours working on home projects that he’s always wanted to get done. Everyone was always telling him to look on the bright side of things… the counted, didn’t it?
Using his right hand, Daniel brushed off a few papers and food crumbs from the passenger seat. No one was getting in his car, but if people walked by he wanted them to see a clean car at first glance. So, on the floor it went.
He then noticed a brown paper bag sitting beside him. He picked it up and grunted at its weight. Without opening it, Daniel knew what was inside. He shook the bag and listened as liquid swished around on the inside.
He shook his head putting the bag back down on the seat. He wasn’t supposed to have that in his car. He must have missed that one when he was cleaning out his stash. He looked out the window trying to get his mind off of it. He was going to have to remember to pour it down the drain when he got home.
Other cars were beginning to park around him now. The rush was coming and time was running out. Daniel sat up straight in his seat and turned the car back on. He wanted to be able to make a quick getaway just in case. He hoped no one saw him; that no one would recognize him.
A bell rang and Daniel stiffened. Children began to pour out of the school building and his eyes frantically searched for his two daughters. As he scanned his surroundings, he came across a tall woman standing outside her car. She smiled and waved to two young girls, who were quite happy to see her. One ran and jumped into her arms as the older one lagged behind carrying both backpacks.
Daniel smiled at the sight.
The two girls and their mother got into the car. With the crossing guard’s thumbs-up, the minivan pulled off from the curb and drove away.
Daniel frowned once the van was out of sight. He hadn’t seen his daughters or his ex-wife since the court date. He didn’t know when he was going to get the chance to see them again.
Without thinking, Daniel took a swig of the paper bag next to him and then drove out of the school zone.
“We’re going to a wedding, not a funeral! Look happy.” She told me as she put on mascara, her face inches away from the mirrior.
I sat on her bed watching her waiting for my turn in front of the mirror. I was happy. But did she remember the way she spoke to me minutes ago?
“Don’t wear your hair like that. Those shoes don’t look well with that dress. You’re going to put on make-up, right?”
Sure, I was happy to go to the wedding. It was just hard to be happy sitting in the same room as her.
She was carried along by the crowd. She tried to reach her arms through people and also tried to see over their heads, but she was too small. She called out his name a few times, but the crowd was so loud in yelling and stampeding through the streets, that no one could hear her; she couldn’t even hear herself.
Amanda, when she could no longer see Jeff, turned around and started walking among the crowd. She didn’t know where they were going, but she thought that it would be easier to walk with the crowd than against. Maybe she could find a small gap that she could fit through and make it to the sidewalk. Then she could backtrack and try to find Jeff again.
She hoped Jeff was thinking the same thing and was trying to find his way back to her.
Amanda picked up her feet and was marching through the streets. She felt so small with the entire crowd surrounding her that if she walked as she normally did, she knew for sure that she would fall and get trampled.
Finally, she found a small opening and tried to walk through it when someone grabbed her arm. She was startled and tried to wriggle free, but she couldn’t get out of the grip.
“Stop, it’s me! Jeff!”
Amanda turned around and noticed Jeff right behind her holding onto her arm. She let out a sigh of relief.
“What are you walking with the crowd for?” Jeff demanded glaring at her.
“I was trying to get away, but I wasn’t strong enough to walk the opposite way. I was trying to make my way to the sidewalk.” Amanda explained.
“Hold onto my arm and do not let go. Follow me.” Jeff was still holding onto Amanda’s arm and she was holding onto his other arm.
He led the way diagonally. They were walking with the crowd, but there were making their way to the sidewalk where no one seemed to be around. Amanda was thankful that the stampede was protesting in the street and not the sidewalk. She thought that was odd, but she wasn’t going to say anything about it.
Finally, she and Jeff made it safely to the sidewalk. Holding onto her tighter, Jeff turned around and started running in the opposite direction of the crowd.
“Where are going to go?” Amanda called trying to keep up with him. Her legs were a lot shorter than his to the point that he was practically dragging her down the sidewalk.
“We’re going home to get some supplies and then we’re leaving the city.” Jeff answered, but he didn’t turn his head to look at her. He was too focused on where he was going.
“What is going on, anyway? Why are all these people so angry?” Amanda wondered.
“We’ll talk about that later in private!” Jeff shouted over the crowd. “We don’t want anyone overhearing our conversation. No more talking until we find the car.”
Amanda nodded her head even though Jeff wasn’t looking at her. With Jeff holding onto her hand and leading her, she watched the crowd trample by them going in the opposite direction. No one seemed to notice that other people were running the opposite way. None of the protesters seemed to care that they were scaring the lives out of some people.
Amanda had woken up that morning to crashes and bangs. When she peeked out the window she noticed that parts of the city were destroyed and on fire. She didn’t understand what was going on. She didn’t understand why the protestors were rioting. She went outside to look for her husband Jeff when she was accidentally swept away by the crowd.
Apparently Jeff was trying to pack the car and get their things together in an attempt to leave the city. That was why Amanda couldn’t find him in the morning and now that the crowd carried her so far away, she ended up delaying their escape.
However, she wasn’t sure what they were escaping from. She didn’t want to leave the city. She didn’t want to leave her home. It was the first house and her husband bought together when they first got married. They were going to start a family together soon. If they left the city, they would have nowhere to go. They would be homeless.
They made it back to the house and Jeff let go of Amanda’s arm. He barked some orders to her and Amanda immediately obeyed without asking any questions.
Together, the two of them ran into their house and grabbed as many belongings as they could. They didn’t bother to pack anything in suitcases; they just threw everything into the minivan and tossed the suitcases in after. They would sort through it all later.
“Is there anything else you need to get?” Jeff asked starting up the van.
Amanda looked back at the house. She and Jeff grabbed all their clothes, all the food they could carry, their stash of money, and any other essentials they needed. They were even able to throw in some things that had sentimental value.
“The house,” Amanda replied without thinking.
“I know… maybe when this is all over we can come back with hopes that it’s not burned to the ground or broken into. I wish we could pack everything we have, including the furniture and the house itself. But we just can’t. Amanda, is there anything else you need to get? We need to leave… immediately.” Jeff explained looking sad.
Amanda shook her head and hopped into the front seat of the car. As she buckled her seatbelt, Jeff revved the engine and sped off. Amanda watched her house shrink in the distance through the side mirror and allowed a few tears to come down her cheek.
“What was going on?” she whispered to Jeff.
“They’re bringing the war here.” Jeff had a tear rolling down his cheek as well.