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Eager, urgent chills skated over Heather’s body as she zipped her small suitcase. After all, she’d been waiting for tomorrow for what felt like an entire lifetime. And still, tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.


She flinched at the sound, recognizing it as a kitchen dish, probably a bowl; he grabbed for those when drunkest. Another unlucky night of gambling.

She twisted her hands together, glancing anxiously at the clock that read 11:45 PM and then around her bedroom that had been a forced, but kind, sanctuary for eighteen years. Her quilt rested on the small bed, bundled neatly with an old, worn-out belt, her small toiletry bag beside it. As she’d done several times over the past hour, she reminded herself it was only one more night. But suddenly one more night seemed unbearable when freedom was so close.

Get your butt down here and pick up this mess,” Bill’s grisly voice yelled from below, followed by a string of slurred curse words.

In her imagination she did just that: ran downstairs, picked up the dishes, and threw them back in his face. “This is for being a filthy, ratty-haired, lousy stepfather for the past six years. For loitering in front of the local bars smoking on cigarettes instead of working, like a normal person. For humiliating me beyond forgiveness when you got into that bar fight for cheating in a game of poker and got sent to the town jail—again,” which happened to cause more than one high school classmate to verbally speculate on Heather’s own cheating tendencies. As if she had something—anything—to do with her stepfather and his worthlessness. But none of that mattered anymore. Come tomorrow, all of it would be a part of her past.

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