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Flight Risk

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A strong wind rustled Melanie’s auburn hair, causing her to
shiver. The cold air turned the tears on her face to ice. She pulled
her coat closer to her and sped up her pace. Behind her she could hear
her neighbor’s dogs howling, seeming to echo her distress. All she
wanted to do was go home. Walking home felt more endless than usual.
Finally she arrived at her house. She threw open her door, dashed up
to her room and dropped onto her bed, facedown. How much time passed,
she was not sure.

It seemed to her as though her sorrow would be
infinite. Finally when her shaking sobs had subsided, she wearily
propped herself up on her elbows. Looking around the room, all she
could see were reminders of her sorrow. Prom, birthdays, sleepovers;
the photos taped to the walls with obvious haste. They seemed to mock
her.
“Why?” she managed to mumble. If she wasn’t feeling so desolate
she would have been startled. She hadn’t spoken since that night.
Speaking required thinking and thinking required using her brain. Her
brain was where all her memories of Laura were stored. It was just
too painful.

She began to grow angry. It should have been her. She was the one driving the damned car. Her
anger quickly grew into a blind rage. She went from photo to photo,
destroying her once precious memories like a paper shredder.
When she was done, she stepped back and observed her work. Her room
looked like a tornado had gone through it. Melanie choked back sobs,
not able to stand it anymore. She ran out of the house on autopilot, a
magnet pulling her to where she needed to go. Ten minutes of running,
adrenaline fueling her.

When she reached her destination the automatic doors opened
smoothly and slowly, allowing for a dramatic entrance. The smell of
heavy duty cleaner hit her like a ton of bricks. It took every ounce
of strength to put one foot in front of the other.

“I need to see Laura. Laura Groves,” she said to the nurse on call. The plump
nurse, barely able to look up from her soaps, pointed down the hall.
“Room 111,” she muttered. Melanie had been to enough checkups at the
hospital to know exactly where to go. She peered in, wringing her
sweat drenched hands.

And there she was. A face that she knew so well and yet she
wouldn’t have even recognized it under the bruises and stitches, IVs
hooked up to every visible inch of skin. It was just as the doctors
had said. Laura was a vegetable, completely gone to the world. Melanie
wiped angry tears from her face; tears she hadn’t even realized had
formed.
How could this have happened? Looking back, the answer was clear. A
night of teenage freedom. “I am so, so sorry Laura. I’ve failed you,”
she croaked. She kissed the one unblemished spot on her friend’s
forehead and turned to leave, unable to take the guilt anymore.
Right before she stood up, she felt a gentle pressure on her
hand. The light squeeze turned into a death grip. She looked down and
saw a vein twitching in Laura’s hand. Her friend’s eyes began to
flutter, revealing aqua irises. Melanie sank back into her chair, stunned,as a burst of sunlight filled the room.





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