PS - The Stranded fiction anthology comes out on the tenth! I've got a story in it! It's gonna be awesome! More hype!
Washed Right Out, Chapter Eight. Prompts used: Gatorade bottle, is that really you?.
Riley was never one to make dramatic announcements. When he said something, he kept to the point. So when he told Sonia what he wanted, what he really wanted, it was serious.
"I need to make Jonathan disappear."
Somehow, Sonia managed to calm Riley down long enough to convince him what he needed to pursue was legal recourse. Mainly, a restraining order. She promised to take him to the courthouse and begin the process.
"Can you come over?" Riley kept the slowly subsiding panic out of his voice. "I don't know if he's outside anymore, and I can't leave if he is."
"Riley, why would he be outside?"
Riley quickly told Sonia about his brush with Jonathan on the front steps. "Did I overreact?"
"Dear, he cut off his hair. That's like cutting off a limb." Sonia's low exhale almost flowed between their mobiles and into his ear. "You have no obligation to apologize to him, to make him feel better about what he did, or to take him back. If he's in pain for some reason, he gets to deal with it himself. If he drags you into it, that shows what kind of person he is."
He smiled. "Sonia, did I ever tell you how glad I am you took psych courses at Oxford?"
"I'll tell my loan officer you said so. I'll be over momentarily. Don't budge."
That wouldn't be hard to do. He couldn't even get close to the windows without worrying. After ending his call with Sonia, Riley paced through the apartment rooms, randomly straightening objects that didn't need the help. Anything to keep his mind off what had happened in the last ten minutes of his life.
Riley was absentmindedly rearranging one of his bookshelves when there was a knock at the door. A second later, his phone buzzed in his pocket with a new message. He quickly shelved his advance reader copy of "Gunn's Golden Rules" to check his phone.
R, I'm at the door. It's okay now. -Sonia
He found Sonia at his door, as promised, a stylish canvas bag slung over one shoulder. In her pearl-colored tunic and print leggings, she looked like she’d walked off the runway, not out of her own boutique down the street.
As soon as she stepped into his apartment, Sonia dropped her bag against the nearest wall and embraced Riley tightly. It wasn't too tight a hug, but Sonia wasn't usually so physically open, even with her friends. He tried not to ask if this was really Sonia and not a convincing looking impostor.
She eventually let go of Riley and stood back to look at him. "How are you feeling?"
"Other than harassed and upset?" At this, Sonia frowned. "Not you, Sonia!" he added.
"I didn't think so. It's just—I'm so mad that someone would try to hurt you like this."
"Well... thanks for coming over."
"Any time, darling." Like that, Sonia was back in business mode. She grabbed her canvas bag from off the floor and strode into Riley's sitting room. He watched from the entrance as she methodically emptied it onto his coffee table. "You don't have to worry about him. He wasn't here when I arrived."
"Really." There were now several stacks of important looking papers and folders set out on the coffee table, joined by a brightly colored bottle of Gatorade, a package of flavored crackers, and several metal cylinders without labels. Despite himself, Riley shut and locked the front door before joining Sonia in the sitting room. "These are for you. I know someone in the police department. I can call them for you if you like."
"The police. Right."
They locked eyes across the table. Sonia's expression grew heavy. "Okay. No police."
"What is all of this anyway?" Riley picked up the Gatorade bottle. "This lemon-lime looks kinda gross."
"It's good for you. The food," she explained, "is so you don't have an excuse to leave the house between now and tomorrow morning. The papers are legal in nature. I'll handle those. I'll still need you to supply answers, but I can do the writing.
"And these are for your protection." She handed one of the cylinders to Riley, who recognized with a start the spray nozzle discreetly centered on the cap.
"Yes, of course."
"You want me to mace my ex? Why do you have so many?"
Sonia shot Riley a pointed look. "Dear, do you really need to know why a young foreign black woman in the city needs mace?"
He mentally gave himself a slap. "Right. Sorry. And now I need it, too."
"Yes, most likely. Please remember to shoot it with the nozzle facing your assailant."
Riley stuck out his tongue. "Got it, mom."
"If I was your mom, I'd pinch your cheek and send you to bed without dinner." Sonia chuckled. "But I think I'll let you be. Someone has to fill out these papers."
She perched herself on the end of his couch, a packet of papers in hand, and put on a sharp pair of reading glasses from her bag. "Do you need anything before I start?"
Riley sat on the other end. His mouth set itself in a hard frown. He cautiously eyed the world outside his window. In his head, broken snippets of the earlier confrontation with Jonathan ran at dizzying speeds.
He didn't want to go to work. He didn't want to leave his apartment. Jonathan knew where he worked, where he lived, where he bought groceries and got his hair cut and visited his grandparents and the library he went to every other week. There was no place he could keep safe from his ex now.
Riley didn't want his ex held back by legal means. He really did want Jonathan to disappear.
"No, nothing. I'm fine."
The sound of Sonia's pencil scratching across the paper's surface couldn't drown out the thoughts of bad things in his head.
Here are the other bloggers who are flashing this Wednesday: