SHORT STORY: A different kind of escape
2 months ago, 13 July 17:22
High above a bustling town, in a luxury mansion perched regally atop a hill, Astrid stood, coffee in hand, on the balcony adjoining her bedroom, looking down.
She imagined the she could see people rushing to and fro on the busy streets, starting their morning shifts… but all she could actually see were cars.
“Hey,” a deep voice sounded right behind her.
She was used to being surprised; she had stopped flinching years ago.
“Oh… hey,” she turned back briefly and shot her perfected, mechanical smile over her shoulder before turning back to enjoy the view.
“There’s some coffee on the counter,” she said to her husband Karl, her tone measured and steady.
“Good. I hate early morning meetings,” he replied.
Karl walked over to the counter and poured himself a cup, still talking but more to himself now, not caring if she were listening, “...but these investors could change the game for us, take everything to the next level. Yes, yes… this will be big…”
“I’m going to the gazebo to do some yoga,” Astrid said, interrupting his monologue before she left the room.
She almost broke into a run the second she was past the door. Walking briskly, she was halfway down the stairs when she heard him call, “Ok, bye!”
Stepping out into the lush gardens surrounding the palatial home, she walked under canopied pathways and alongside blooming bushes to a gazebo behind a wall of plants.
There she waited, serenaded by the sweet twittering of birdsong, captivated by the subtle changes in light… until she heard the purr of an engine.
Then she was up on her feet, moving through the labyrinth of plants, slipping in through the back-door and softly padding up the stairs back into the bedroom.
“I don’t need any of it,” she mumbled to herself as she grabbed her purse and a small duffel bag containing her ID, passport, essentials and mementos, leaving a world of luxury behind. Turning back to the door, she paused and turned back to stare at the beautiful room. “Yep,” she thought, she’d trade it all in for her freedom.
Sweeping down the stairs, she was out of the door when her heart began to thump hard. How mad would he be? Enough to leave her alone, or would he come looking for her?
Rushing out, key in hand to unlock her car, she had just put her hand on the car door when a shout from behind stopped her cold.
“Where the hell are you going?!”
What? But how? She’d heard his car… surely he had to have left by now for his meeting.
“Astrid, get back in here now!”
She turned around slowly, her heart pounding so hard her chest heaved up and down with the effort of it.
She steeled herself, searching desperately for an excuse, expecting to see him standing a few feet behind her. So her relief was palpable when she saw his head poking out of his second floor study. She didn’t waste another moment.
Slipping into her car, she mentally lectured herself. She had to be ...
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