Flash Fiction – The Walk Back

Kelly pulled her keys out while she waited for Cait to say her goodbyes. It was still relatively early in the evening but with a meeting at 8:30 the next morning, Kelly needed to get to bed and soon.

Cait was hugging Adam, congratulating him on his gallery show for the millionth time. Their eyes met. Cait rolled hers as she turned away from Kelly, who sighed and glanced at her watch. She felt guilty dragging Cait away. She walked over, pulling Cait gently aside.

“Look, if you want to stay, why don’t you see if someone else will just give you a ride home after?” Kelly suggested.

The light of relief in Cait’s eyes caused Kelly to shake her head. Why she couldn’t have thought of that solution on her own…

“You sure you don’t mind? I feel bad… I mean, I begged you to be my ride and now…”

“We’re cool. Have fun. I feel bad that I have to cut out so damn early,” Kelly assured Cait who looked visibly relieved.

Cait hugged her tight for a moment. “You’re the best,” she told her before disappearing back into the gathering of their friends for more art and wine.

Kelly gave a smile and brief wave to the few who noticed her departure before she’d vanished down the stairs and emerged into the cooler evening air. She checked her watch again—she hated how early the sun set during the fall. Was it one week or two until they switched the clocks?

She paused to look at the gallery behind her. The other thing she hated about early sunsets was the way it distorted things like distance as well as time. She’d found a parking spot on the street three blocks away from the gallery. In the daylight it hadn’t felt like a great distance but with the darkness stretched out between her and her car the distance felt infinite.

She felt her keys in her hand, making sure she had a good grip and at least two of them faced out from between her fingers. Her finger felt for the panic button on the remote door-lock gizmo and she prayed it she wasn’t too far out of range for it to work if she needed it.

Counting the deserted side streets as she passed, there was only one block left to walk when Kelly heard the chime of a bicycle. She turned, confused by the childish sound emanating from the shadows.

“Need a ride Sweet-cheeks?” The question set her skin crawling and her feet moving a little faster. She turned her focus back to the sidewalk ahead but could hear the bicycle’s chain as its rider followed her.

“Come on, Honey,” he called to her. “I’ll take good care of you.”

She spotted her car in the light of a streetlamp ahead. A few more steps and she was safely inside with the doors locked and the windows up, blocking out the noise of that now-creepy bell.

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