Runaway


by Heather Luby

I knew her daddy would get the call. He was a volunteer fireman, he'd go. The grass was downright crisp being summer. It caught quickly, I didn't need to look back to know. It seemed like a good idea. He never left her in that house alone, not for long time. Dropped her off, picked her up, like she was some prisoner on transport instead of daddy's little girl riding around in his pickup. She watched for me that day, her bedroom window open, the call of that fire siren in the distance. Her room was hot and damp even though she had some little box fan in her doorway. Her hands trembled on my belt buckle. I laid her down on the bed, stroked her hair like I had seen in a movie once. She winced when it caught in my watchband, but then we laughed. We laughed and then we were kissing--anxious and urgent--our hands traveling fabric and skin. I wondered if her yellow nightgown might have been her mother's. I promised her everything. Sirens wailed. She cried, but only a little, at first. She said she was happy, it felt good, really. I believed her. We were losing time and we were lost in time. The sirens died and twilight took hold. I pressed my nose into the hollow between her neck and ear and breathed her in. No one ever told how her body and my body would feel different, pressed together, after. A car came down the road, kicking gravel. She said my name. I pulled my pants on, grabbed my boots and ran. I let the screen door slap the frame. At the wood's edge I turned, saw a cop car in the driveway. Two cops got out. They took off their hats. She stood dressed, but stripped down in their headlights. She stared. The older cop said something I couldn't hear; her answer nothing but a scream. Somewhere in the dark of the woods a train whistled. I ran to it, I chased my only escape, but the lingering smoke followed.


Heather Luby is really nothing more than a girl from the Ozark Mountains that grew up with dreams of writing stories. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, The Citron Review, Travel by the Books, Annotation Nation and a few other little places too. She holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles and is currently feverishly revising her novel Laws of Motion. When not conversing with the characters of her imagination, she can found wrangling two willful and beautiful daughters around the suburbs of St. Louis, MO, and most certainly drinking strong coffee.