On the Way Home

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When autumn came to the little town, the cool breeze swept the dry red and orange leaves through the air and let them spiral down to the earth. Sometimes the rain fell with the leaves, and the roads were glistening and slippery, and there was a soft pitter-patter of raindrops on the roofs as the people sat quietly by their windows, counting the drops that streamed by on the glass until they trickled out of sight.


The sun shone feebly in the gray morning sky over the quiet town. Crisp leaves crunched under Clara’s black high-heeled shoes as she walked briskly past small white houses with neatly arranged gardens. She stopped at one house, walked up the driveway and the front steps, and rang the doorbell, examining her painted fingernails until the door opened.


The old lady squinted for a moment before she recognized the young girl. “Oh! Clara, I didn’t know it was you. Well, come in! And what brings you here?”


“I’ve come to say goodbye, Mrs. James. I have to go home today. My train leaves at three o’clock this afternoon.”


Mrs. James looked surprised. “This afternoon? Why are you leaving so soon?”


“I’ve been here for the entire summer, Mrs. James. I’m going to go to college soon.”


“Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”


“But Mrs. James, I’m sure I did.”


“Oh. Yes, you probably did, and it must have slipped my mind.”


“Yes, maybe that’s what happened.”


“Well, goodbye, Clara. I wish you didn’t have to go. Will you be visiting us next summer?”


“Of course I will, Mrs. James. Don’t worry about that.”


A light rain had begun to fall, and Clara looked up at the heavy clouds and darkening sky as she made her way to the house of her aunt and uncle, where she had been staying that summer. Her aunt, uncle, and suitcase were waiting for her on the front porch.


After they exchanged goodbyes and hugs, her aunt said, “Are you sure you want Henry to take you to the station? It’s really no trouble for your uncle and me.”


Clara replied, “It’s no trouble for Henry, either. It’s all right. He really wants to do it.”


“I don’t see the reason for it,” said her uncle gruffly. “You already told him you wouldn’t marry him.”


“I can handle this myself,” Clara said, starting to get annoyed. “He was so devastated when I said no to him. This is my chance to make him feel a little better by being nice to him, so if you don’t mind…” She took her suitcase and walked off. “Bye! I’ll see you next summer!”


Clara turned left at the end of the street. Henry’s house was the fourth one on the right. The rain had stopped, and the only sound was the click of her high-heeled shoes on the pavement. When she was walking up the driveway he opened the front door and stood there smiling at her. “You are so beautiful,” he said.


She smiled back at him but did not say anything. He came out to fetch her suitcase, and together they went in the house. They sat in silence at the kitchen table for a few moments until he said, “I don’t want you to go, Clara. I need you here.”


“Do you really think so? We can only be friends, Henry.”


“I want you to stay here forever.”


She laughed. “But that’s impossible – you know I have to go to college.”


He ignored her words. “We can both stay here forever, and we will always be happy, and nothing will come between us. How would you like that?”


“Oh, I’m not sure. We should go now, Henry, or I’ll miss my train.”


Henry slowly got up from his chair. He reached his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handgun. Clara screamed.


“No! Don’t shout like that,” said Henry calmly. “Don’t you understand? This way you don’t have to go home, and we can stay here forever.”


She jumped up and tried to run away from him, but Henry pulled the trigger and Clara’s lifeless body fell to the floor. He smiled happily. “I love you, Clara,” he said, then he put the gun to his own head.





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