She slid the folded bills across the counter to the officer on the other side of the cashier’s window. He looked at her before counting it. After putting the money into a drawer, he handed her a brown envelope and a pair of shoes.
She took the large envelope and stared at the shoes.
“His shoestrings are in the envelope with the rest of his things.”
She nodded, grabbed the belongings, and walked out.
Slowly she made her way to the car and got in behind the wheel. She was tired. Very tired. Exhausted.
He was stretched out on the concrete cot when he heard his last name.
He jerked up and turned toward the cell door, where a guard was waiting for the gate to open.
“Someone’s come for you,” the guard said. “You’re free to go.”
Jeremy Owens got off the cot, walked across the hard concrete floor, and walked out of the jail cell.
As soon as she saw him, she looked down. She turned the key that was already in the ignition, and the family car roared to life. She glanced in the rear-view mirror at the lone object in the back seat, then slipped the car into reverse. Backing out of the parking spot, she made her way to the entrance of the jail.
Jeremy watched the car as it made its way to where he was standing. He shivered in the cold morning air as he waited for the car to make its way to him. When he saw that there was only one person in the car, and who that the person was, he hung his head.
He’d expected his father, or maybe his brother. He’d expected anyone but her.
He stood on the edge of the sidewalk and took a deep breath. The car pulled up to the curb and stopped. He avoided looking at the face behind the wheel, and instead walked around to the passenger side of the car.
The door squeaked as he opened it, and he scooted into the front seat.
They drove in silence, not a word spoken between them.
Jeremy noticed the box in the backseat and wondered about its contents. Without trying to be too obvious, he half turned his head and saw that the box was partially open. He noticed one of his shirts sticking out at the top.
He turned back and stared at the road ahead.
It was in a neighborhood neither one of them knew when she pulled the car to the curb and slowly came to a stop.
She turned the car off and took the keys out of the ignition. Clinching them inside her fist, she held on to the keys as she got of the car.
Once out of the car, she opened the back door and leaned into the back seat and with both hands pulled the box out of the car.
The slamming of the car door echoed through the eerie silence of the morning.
Jeremy watched her as she got the box out of the car, and then went around to the sidewalk. He watched as she first set the box on the sidewalk and then walked over to his door. He kept watching as she opened his door and then stood off to the side. He studied her face for a moment, not sure what to do next. When the intention was too obvious to ignore, he slowly got out of the car.
She never looked at him.
When she felt he was safely away from the car, she simply shut the door, and walked around to the driver’s side.
It was only after she opened her door that she finally looked him in the eye. After a few seconds, and without a word, she got into the car, started it, and drove away.
Jeremy watched the car until it was out of sight. He looked down at the box at his feet. Tears filled his eyes as he picked up everything he owned.
He looked first to the left, and then to the right, as he tried to decide which way to go...
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