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Relief

By , Brattleboro, VT
“So you are telling me that you were watching the game from up there?” the officer looked into my eyes skeptically, gesturing to the top of the tree that had been my vantage point just minutes ago. “And you jumped down as I got close because you didn't want to seem suspicious?” “Yes” repeated, “I didn't have enough money to get into the game, and I just couldn't stand not seeing this great game” I kept going “ and plus, I got a ride with my friend, and I couldn't ask him to miss the game and bring me home because of my own stupid mistake.” I tried to look as ashamed as I could, wiping the sweat from my face, my heart racing. “Ummm…” I was talking faster than my brain was thinking of what to say so I just ended it with a quiet “yeah, I’m really sorry…”
Thoughts racing through my mind, I did everything I could to not completely lose it. What if I got caught? What would everyone think? Would I go to jail? My head felt like it was both burning and freezing at the same time, I could feel my chest become hollow and my stomach twist. Half my brain told me to run, run faster than I ever had, but I knew that I couldn't do that, not while there was any shadow of a doubt left in me that I might get off fine.
He surveyed me, from head to toe, in my questionable but not outright outrageous attire. It must be hard to see for him I thought, because of the shards of light, cast from the bright lights above the football field, broken by the hundreds of unique branches, leaves and trees in its way. The sound of the announcers and the audience melted and swirled together into a static, unimportant noise, filling the silence.
After I had accepted my horrible, self-imagined fate that I would surely be assigned by this man, I finally looked down, casting my face in shadow, accepting that nothing in my life would ever be the same… he finally spoke. “I can’t say that I was much different from you when I was younger.” As this beautiful sentence hit me, I couldn't keep my mouth from beginning to curl into the slightest grin. “I didn't have much money growing up, and that kept me away from my friends, but there was nothing I could do about it. Here, take this and hurry, you can still make it to the game before halftime.”
He handed me some cash, and I gingerly took it, unable to believe my luck. I slowly backed up and began to turn before breaking eye contact. Seeing him give me a nod and a kind smile, I broke into a sprint, as if I were going to the game. As soon as I got far enough into the woods that I knew he could not see me, I threw the money down on the trail he would be walking back on and then took off into the woods, toward my car. I could feel my combat armor chafing my skin beneath my clothes, my ankles hurting from the jump I had taken to get out of the tree before the officer saw me doing anything that I couldn't explain. I imagined that camouflaged, suppressed .308 caliber rifle up in the tree where I hastily perched it, panicking at the sight of the patrolling officer. In my mind, the disappointment of not being able to take the shot was offset by the overwhelming wave of relief that had just washed over me. “It’s not a problem…” I muttered to myself as I slowed to a walk, figuring that even if things went wrong, I was far enough away to be fine. I chuckled “Not a problem, just a inconvenient delay.”





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