“CLAIRE! Where the hell are you?” Joseph yelled. “You can’t hide from me forever! I’ll find you. I ALWAYS DO!”
Claire was certain he wouldn’t find her today because he’d never think to look under the bridge. He knew every detail about her including her phobia of water; the thing she thought she feared most may turn out to save her life. She cowered lower into the choppy current; turning her body sideways and allowing the cement cylinder to conceal her slender frame. She was freezing yet it was the terror she felt racing through her body that caused her to shake. If Joseph found her, he’d surely kill her this time. She held her breath when she heard him scream out in anger.
“CLAIRE! You’re only hiding because I found out the truth! Though it’s something I knew about you all along, you little snake! COME OUT! Who was it this time, huh? The jerk-off I saw you eyeing on the train the other day? You didn’t think I noticed, but I did you little whore!”
Of course he noticed because he’d given her a thorough beating when they’d gotten home. Her eyes glazed over the yellowy-green bruise on her right arm. Joseph had chased her through their apartment before grabbing her hair and slamming her to the floor. He’d pressed his foot into the side of her face, causing her ear to burn against the carpet before he pummeled her ribs and arms with his other foot.
Claire had never eyed anyone on the train, but merely looked up from her short story, Tower of Peace, when the train stopped. She watched a tsunami* of people empty off the train car into the bustle of downtown and wished she was joining them. The only thing she had been guilty of that day was indulging in the desire for freedom.
“Claire you little witch! Get your coward ass out here!” Joseph’s fury sounded farther away. Claire leaned forward to peek out from around her shield just in time to see Joseph disappear into the trees.
With his attention in the grove, Claire quickly waded out of the water and felt relief in the warmth of the sand under her feet and the rush of opportunity in her spirit. Her freedom would not be found within a swell of passengers but rather alone, by her own strength and courage to overcome and start over. She ran to the beginning of the bridge and looked across before taking a swift glance back over her shoulder.
Joseph was right, she couldn’t hide forever. Claire faced the bridge and broke into a sprint, letting the wind carry away what once was and taking in the euphoria of choosing to live fully in whatever life offered on the other side.
Word count: 465
* I realize I stretched my artistic liberty on this term. Feel free to comment on whether or not I pulled it off. 🙂