Amanda flicked the lighter and lit her cigarette before the one in the ashtray on the kitchen table grew cold. The home phone unplugged and her cell broken in three pieces from its encounter with the wall, there was nothing left to disturb the quiet. Except for the occasional roar of an engine as a new shift took over watch.
She surged to her feet and strode through her oriental decorated living room to the alcove. She squint one eye to see through the gap where the string threaded her wood blinds. Yep, they were still there. Camped on the front lawn, sidewalk, and as far up her driveway as they dared. Reporters from every major and every hole in the wall publication in the city.
The thought of calling the police made Amanda laugh aloud before she puffed her cigarette down to a nub. Cops would be here soon enough. To arrest her.
She hurried back to the table to light the last in her pack. What she needed, and quick, was a drink. It was getting hard to maneuver through her house for all the strewn items on the floor that used to sit almost neatly in cabinets, cupboards and her desk.
I gotta get to the liquor store. That becoming the only thought pounding in her head, Amanda grabbed her car keys. This should be fun.
Slipping into the garage, she used her key to unlock the door of her pearl white Lexus, not wanting to alert the savvy reporters until she was ready to blaze a trail.
Key jammed in the ignition, Amanda roared her Lexus to life, jerking it into reverse. She used her left hand to press the garage door opener clipped to her visor, but misjudged the timing as she gassed it. The folding garage door protested as it scraped the top of her car roof.
The van blocking her drive still there, Amanda swung into her manicured lawn and bodies with camera equipment scattered. Gears shifted, she spun her tires, slinging mud and grass toward the shocked faces.
It took speed and running two red lights before she finally lost the trailing circus of reporters. Amanda then changed her direction for the other side of the tracks to an area of town she had covered as a rookie reporter.
In and out of the liquor store before anyone could ‘jack her car, Amanda sped off to a park that was fairly safe in the daylight. She stopped after landing one wheel on the curb.
Gripping the bottle of bourbon in one hand, Amanda refused to cry. No matter that she’d fabricated a story about an affair between the mayor and a city councilwoman that led to the woman’s disturbed husband killing them both and himself. No matter that she would never be the top ace reporter again. No matter that she would spend years in prison. No matter that the only person who cared about her right now was her brother, Ryan.
Wait. Maybe that did matter.
Still clutching the neck of the bottle, Amanda slipped her free hand into her jean pocket and retrieved a quarter. Not just any quarter. One Ryan gave her with a story. She ran her thumb around the edge. The third side of the coin, he’d called it. An unending supply of love and understanding. For her. From him. And God.
Ryan said if she’d give this all over to God, all of it and herself, God could somehow bring good from it.
Amanda dropped the quarter in the front pocket of her shirt and struggled with opening the bottle. Successful, she caught a whiff of the one she’d called her best friend for too long. Lifting it to her lips, hand shaking, Amanda realized she wasn’t alone at the park.
Reporter observation skills kicked in involuntarily. Amanda studied the beat up red van that parked in front of her along the curb. Out piled—three little girls.
A woman exited the driver’s side and herded the girls toward the swings. Amanda watched. Ah, to be young and innocent again.
Without thought, Amanda reached to touch the quarter and realized it rested over her heart. Ryan. God. Maybe. Just maybe.
Amanda popped open her door and upended the bottle, watching its content turn the gray concrete to brown.
Maybe there was still hope for her.
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