It's only 4 more blocks to grandmother’s house.
When I told my friends I was fine walking home from the bar alone, it was before Jake Wolff showed up. I had taken the same walk thousands of times before; 6 blocks down Main Street and then a right on Country Club and a left on James. If I had somehow lost my vision, I could make my way home from Finn’s without missing a beat.
But we locked eyes right before Jamie and Jessica left. Now I can hear his footsteps behind me as I try to quicken my pace but still keep it unsuspecting. I heard the rumors about Wolff. About how he preys on innocent girls who are dumb enough to walk home alone during the nighttime. But I always considered myself smarter than that. Tonight, I am questioning my clarity.
I have lived with my grandmother since I was a little girl. My dad left before I even said my first words and my mom had always been unreliable. My grandmother was a better parent to me than both of them combined. I never moved out because I couldn’t bear the thought of her living alone.
I wonder what will happen if I scream. I hold the banana bread I made earlier in my cooking class close to my body, like if I were to let go of it he would grab me. It was supposed to be a gift for grandmother. I’m too scared to turn around to make sure it's him and not just my paranoia.
I let out the air I’d been holding in my lungs to entire way home as I approach the cobblestone steps of my only home. My hands are shaking as I put the key into the keyhole. The door swings open and I am met with the safe and comfortable darkness that covers my grandmother’s entryway. As I close the door behind me, I turn around to see that my neighborhood is completely empty of figures running away or any movement in the slightest. Maybe I wasn’t Wolff’s prey tonight after all.
I slip off my shoes and quietly make my way up the stairs. I change into an old t-shirt and running shorts and wash all the makeup off of my face. I take a moment to look at myself in the mirror, examining the red shirt that hid my curves and made me look like a little girl again.
I decide to check on grandmother. She always wants me to wake her up when I get home so she knows I’m safe. I put on my raggedy slippers and pad my way down the hall to her room. The door is shut, which I find surprising since grandmother can never sleep with the door closed. It makes her feel trapped.
I question whether or not I should wake her up when I see her in peaceful slumber, facing towards the windows and away from me. I go up to lightly shake her, and I notice how strong her shoulders had gotten seemingly overnight. When she rolls over, I am met with piercing grey eyes instead of the deep blue ones I had come to know so well.
“Hello Red.” I barely have enough time to muster out a scream before a masculine hand clamps down around my mouth. “It’s nice to see you again.”