Taking several steps out into the yard, I kicked off my flip-flops, allowing my toes to sink into the lush green grass, curling them tightly and then flexing them outward. A deep breath filled my lungs before I exhaled. This was it: this was what freedom felt like. I’ll admit, I was scared as hell, and I didn’t know what being alone looked like, but I was ready for the experience.
I turned back and looked at the door to the home where I thought my life would always be. I had half expected Ashton to chase me outside, making a scene in front of all the neighbors, begging me not to go. I was surprised he didn’t. I think he knew as much as I did, this time, I wasn’t changing my mind. This time, no amount of screaming or crying would make me stay.
“Bye Ash—” I whispered, just before the shot filled my ears. Echoing and ricocheting around my head for a few moments, the sound caused me to tremble. My head started to rock slightly from side to side, my eyes filling with tears, I couldn’t move—frozen to the spot where my bare feet were planted in that lush grass. I just stood, staring at the door, telling myself I hadn’t heard the noise I knew I just had.
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