Dim light was gliding softly through the window pane from the back porch light. A perfect spotlight for specs of dust, busy shuffling and joining together to do their mighty dance. The whole spectacle was marvellous when you took a moment to stare but I am also gloriously high. I don’t even know what time it is but I can tell it’s early morning, maybe four or five. I mumble to myself “How’d I get home?” as I observe an attractive naked guy spread eagle on my bed, with his hipster beard and all. This was a reoccurrence and usually a bi-product of a whisky and drug fuelled night at the bar, but as usual I shrugged it off and moved myself into the loft next to my bedroom. This isn’t actually my house. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to squat here for awhile, long enough where it’s started to feel like home. It’s a lonely and small rickety farm house, all barn board and craftsman. Creeks and shadows make it dark and eerie, which actually compliments the furnishings in all their retired found on the side of the road glory. There is a stark kitchenette downstairs and the fridge makes this radiating incessant buzz that instantly pisses me off. The living room consists of a couch, a chair and a table, there is no TV and no phone. The house and it’s land is totally disconnected from the suburban city sprawl, even though it’s only a fifteen minute drive away on a side road. Upstairs is just as lonely: a bedroom, a bathroom and a loft area with another couch and a mini fridge that I had won at karaoke when I was in University. This is the kind of house begging for love, it could be marvelous and beautiful in the right hands.
My ears pick up the rather aggressive snore coming from the bedroom, so I peer from the couch in the loft and flip my eyes over while rolling up a twenty and tapping the end on the table till it’s stiff. I begin to salivate as I anticipate the familiar taste drip down the back of my throat, numbing my tongue, numbing everything. Aleister Crowley would say “Happiness lies within oneself, and the way to dig it out is cocaine.” So, I kept trying. I take a swig of an old beer from the morning that was sitting on the table and decide to savour what was left. I have always loved the stillness of night, as it casually slides into morning. This reminded me of how much I didn’t like the quiet though, and that thought made me begin to eye the radio as I finished rolling up a joint. I slouch backwards and shrug my feet up on the table, spilling what’s left of the old, warm and flat brew. I’m in total distaste of my fumble but regardless that doesn’t stop me from climbing out of my seat, sparking the joint as I drag my feet to mini fridge. I am almost all out but there is one beer left, so I anxiously snatch it up and decide to let it flood my mouth as not to waste another drop. The radio is cutting in and out with static and as I work to find a station I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
“Not half bad” I smirk, only having on my panties, all black lace boy cuts. Staring at the mirror you could tell I’m vain, I don’t stand in front of mirror in distaste and evaluate myself. I soak my reflection in, a beautiful mess, long dark hair and curvy. My stomach is tight, and my stature is short with these starry dough eyes set into a husky blue…pouty lips. A wolf in sheeps clothing, seriously, the look of innocence. Hard to believe well into my thirties I still pass for a naive young girl, traits that all work to my benefit when your a black sheep like me. If it wasn’t petty theft and cons, it was growing weed, the lifestyle of a bad seed. The radio finally finds it’s tune and decides to land on a Johnny Cash track “When the man comes around”. I’ve always been a fan of Cash, he was dirty and gritty and I appreciate his music. At folsom Prison is and always will be a treasured favourite.
I catch something in the reflection of the mirror from the front window, illuminating through the canopy of the evergreens and birch trees. I am instantly, irrevocably sober. Shit. It’s the fucking cops. I mean it has to be, I don’t see cherry lights or hear sirens but surely with all the bright lights racing toward me i’m sure it is. Unless it’s Aliens, but I feel like Aliens would use more tact. I stand for a moment stunned and shake myself into an awkward dance, racing as quietly as possible back into the bedroom to slip on my jeans and tank top, thankfully they were not spaced out among the tattered bed linen. I look back and see the lights have gained momentum and are coming up the road. Fuck. I bolt to the back window and brace myself knowing that I cannot hesitate, I have to jump, I have to run. I soar, spread flat through the air, and in the seconds before impact I feel a true taste of freedom. My eyes are closed, my breath held, prepared for the impact as I crash into the back lawn. I am instantly winded, landing on my side in a failed attempt to roll out of the fall but it’s not like i’m a fucking stunt man, I’d be foolish to think I could land on my feet. I feel a burning on my side and my breathing is hitched. My pants are half off and I scramble to get up and button my jeans. I hear footsteps nearing the back of the house, coming in a frenzy and loud thunder like sounds coming from the front.
They are breaking down the fucking door! The old house has come alive all at once and I smile widely for a fleeting moment as I picture poor college guys face as he is woken by a swat team. I hold in a hardy laugh and focus on making my way to duck under brush some hundred yards away. Tucked into the skirt of the woods I watch them winded, my breathe is producing a burning wheeze with every exaggerated exhale. The house is still alive with noises, yelling and feet stomping, I see they have entered my bedroom and I see college boy yanked from the bed. I scour the yard and count six men, all armed pacing and tracking the perimeter tactfully in lines. The relief on my face must be humorous as I resign to the fact while I have to run, I won’t have to move to fast. It appears the pigs didn’t bring the canines and while running in itself is a wretched journey, running away from humans is much easier than running from a pack of dogs. I’ve never been much for dogs if i’m being honest. Not only am I terribly irresponsible, christ I can barely look after myself, dogs in all their portrayals of heroism and loyalty always give their owners away in the moments of war. When all is stirred and turbulent they sniff out the ones they value, they give them away. I don’t need that kind of affection, and I don’t value that sort of love. The second you care about someone else and are willing to risk your neck you’re absolutely fucked. It’s an every man for himself kind of world and I don’t burden myself with that kind of baggage.
My feet hurt, the sticks are penetrating my polished soles and I instantly cannot forgive myself for at least not taking the time to grab some shoes, surely there was. It’s March and the ground as begin to thaw, leaving shatters of ice crystals spread throughout the canopy of the ground. The six idiots pacing the lawn are awaiting orders and have reached stalemate as the house is searched. I begin to move further into the brush of the woods, not turning my back and moving slow, hoping the sticks between my feet do not snap and give me away. Then as all hope was gained, it is ripped away savagely from the shallows of my sunken soul. I hear them, the dogs, as they run, faster, pulling their puppeteers into the back lawn. So, I run. Creating waves of motion ringing out and echoing into the ears of the enemy. I stay vigilant and run through the web of trunks and brush with the advantage of knowing this land. That pays off and after sometime of circling the perimeter of the property the enemy has pulled back to regroup and regain force. Knowing I must leave and push forward I begin to pass through the back pasture of the farm to the side of me.
It’s a tiresome adventure into to dawn and as the sunrise approaches I am resigned to the fact of finding hiding as I am not yet far enough away. The roar of the early commuters on the interstate grow close and as my brain scrambles to hatch a plan I stop, bracing my hands onto my thighs. I pull up my sweat soaked tank and assess the damage to my side, my tissue is inflamed and throbbing and with that, morphing into a large canvas of purple and blue. My feet are bloodied and their skin is torn away from my escape. Fuck I’m in bad shape and with my adrenalin stabilizing and my high wearing off I am becoming defeated, deflating into a puddle of mud. I’m cold, there has been a mist building in the air for sometime now and a dense fog has rolled in. I hunch over hidden in the skirt of trees next to the interstate and begin to gather my thoughts “What the fuck am I doing?” I know can’t hitch looking like I do so I slide down the tree i’m leaning on, feeling the skin on my back scrape against the bark. It feels so good. It feels like hours have past as I watch the sun rise higher up into the sky, tears have slowed as they fall down my shallowed face and the numbness in my fingertips have started to burn. I’m so cold. Deciding to go back home, I sob until it turns into panic, the kind of cry that exhausts your soul, leaving you open and vulnerable.
When I arrive back in the perimeter of the yard the house looks still. There’s a moment, as the sun reaches it’s highest point that I submit and flatten myself on the ground. “Just let me go” I whisper, sure that this was it, they’d find me dead, half frozen, one with the earth. But the universe laughs at me, taunting me with passing consciousnesses, and enough strength to crawl back home. The agony of crawling on my knees and hands towards the back door of the house is met with relief when it appears there is nobody there. “Odd” is all that manages to escape my mouth as I make my way inside. The buzz from the fridge causes a glare to escape my face and I notice a note left on the door. “Had a great time! Must have missed you – Chad” Totally confused I check the front door, it’s still there, just as it always was. “What the fuck! Did I dream this?” When I make it upstairs, the radio is on, and as I pass the mirror I am taken back. I look terrible, like death is my shadow, ready to pull it’s cloak over my face and end me. I must have tripped out bad or maybe had some sort of episode.” I think to myself as I slouch on to the couch in the loft and tap a rolled twenty on the table till it’s tight.
©️ Heather Lynn Matthews