The numbers, letters and operators blur under my absent stare. I’m distracted by the setting sun and the chance to see Jeremy once more before the full moon. I hope he hasn’t changed his mind.
I scribble the last answer and drop my pencil on the table. “I’m done Mama. Mind if I go for a walk?”
“Where are you going?” She looks at me over a basket of laundry, but doesn’t stop folding.
I shrug. I’m not used to questions. “Maybe I’ll see Mary Jane.”
She holds her gaze steady as she places another towel in the stack. She drops a couple washcloths in her lap and grabs another fistful of linens.
I shift under her scrutiny. “What?”
“It would be better if you read Pride and Prejudice for your essay.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I have two weeks to finish the essay, but I can tell she wants to keep me inside. I wonder if she knows about Jeremy; about the plan.
I gather my algebra homework and trudge up the stairs. I flop on my bed and bury my face in a pillow, half wishing I would suffocate. At least then, I wouldn’t have to watch my life decay. I wouldn’t see freedom slip from my hands, dreams evaporate into wisps of sadness, or be forced to accept a fate I do not want.
Hope draws me to my window. I poke my head between the curtain panels and stare at the cornfields in the distance. The sun has already sneaked behind them. A movement in the nearby shadows catches my eye. I squint to focus and gasp when I realize who lurks below.
He shrugs his shoulders, as if to ask where I am. I shake my head and shrug back. He holds his hand up- five fingers. I place my palm on the window. Five days.
I watch Jeremy shove his hands in his pants pockets and disappear into the shadows.
DECAY (intransitive verb): To fall into ruin.
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