Hindsight Guilt

Half-asleep and sweaty from the humidity, Sophie trudged behind her mother, Anna, through early morning mist.

As if they were prey to an inescapable curse, the fog was an unfortunate reminder of how unclear and gloomy their life had become.

This is it for us. Just walking… Walking to school, to the grocery store, walking forever and going nowhere, Sophie thinks. The colossal weight of her ripped backpack slowed her pace and made her back sore.

Since Anna couldn’t afford a new one, Sophie resolved the rips with pieces of cloth from old jeans she sewed on and accepted the pain.

That was upsetting.

But not as intense as the scene from two weeks ago that kept looping in her brain, increasing the fury she felt for Anna more and more each time they had to walk somewhere. If not for the canary yellow copy of the police report Sophie found in the kitchen trash, she wouldn’t have discovered the fate of their car.

She memorized the police report word for word.

Music blasting, speeding, drinking prescription pills like water to escape life pressures… Until a tree stepped in the road, according to Anna. It was a miracle she survived.

“We wouldn’t have to walk everywhere if you didn’t crash,” Sophie groans and wipes sweat from her head. “This is two miles every day… I hate this town. Why isn’t there a school bus?”

“This won’t be forever.”

“Yeah, it will. You’re always a disaster!”

“I’m doing the best I—” She trips over a raised sidewalk in front of the school.

Struggling to her feet, Anna gasps at the sight of blood oozing from her knees.

Sophie glared at her mother.

“I’ll make things right.” Anna says. “I won’t give up—”

“I hate you.”

The school bell rings.

Sophie runs off without a goodbye.

As her classmates headed inside, she stopped to watch Anna limp toward the growing line at the only bus stop in town, off to her job arranged by a social worker after refusing to work for years.

Today was her first day.

I’ll make things right… I won’t give up.

A flush of regret shattered Sophie’s heart as she watched her board the bus.

“I believe you, Mom.”

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