AChapADay: Chapter Four

Thursday, April 12, 2020

Anna was lucky.  

Well, not as a rule, usually she was incredibly unlucky.  That was the problem.  That and that everyone was out to get her.  She’d felt that way since the day she met Scout O’Leary.  But she couldn’t dwell on that today.  Today, she was lucky.  

She left her house a full 45 minutes later than Scout and her group of friends and daughters were planning to.  She wanted a safe distance between them.  Imagine her surprise, then, when she came out of the restroom of a truck stop just outside of St. Cloud and nearly bumped into one of Scout’s friends.  This one was Grace, a lawyer at some big Minneapolis law firm.  They both had to awkwardly shuffle out of each other’s way not to smack right into each other.

“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry,” Grace exclaimed, reaching out to steady Anna.  Anna pulled her arm back, as if burned, and looked down.  “It’s fine,” she mumbled as she hurried past the woman.  “Sorry,” Grace called after her.  

Anna ducked into an aisle of the truck stop store that had car accessories.  She kept her head moving back and forth, as if she were trying to decide between windshield wiper fluid or what color tree air freshener she should buy, but her eyes scanned the store.  She saw the girls, gathered around a phone laughing, and two of their mom’s paying at the cash register.  She looked at the two exits and decided she couldn’t get out without being seen.

She was wearing a wig.  A black bob with bangs to cover her naturally dirty blonde hair.  She also had fake eyeglasses on with thick lenses that almost distorted her eyes.  She knew she was unrecognizable but this was far too close for comfort.  When she heard the whine of the bathroom door opening, she shimmied her way behind a display of camouflage t-shirts and bright orange hats so Grace wouldn’t see her again.  She held her breath as she walked by and joined the other women.

Finally, blessedly, they all left and she saw the white Suburban pull away from one of the gas pumps.  Anna let out the breath she’d been holding.  She climbed out from behind the shirts and hats and saw a teenage boy, and employee of the truck stop, looking at her with obvious curiosity.

“What?” She barked.  The curious look he’d had vanished and he stammered.

“Spit it out,” she said, advancing on him.

He took a step back.  “Sorry, ma’am, umm…do you need help finding anything?”

She gave him what she hoped was a withering glare and stormed out, muttering to herself.  She knew she shouldn’t be talking to people, people who might remember her later.  But at least she was in disguise.  The fancy lawyer, and the stupid high school kid, neither of them would ever be able to recognize her without the wig and glasses.

When she was safely back in her Prius, she put her head on the steering wheel.  She had to get it together.  There was a lot of work ahead if she was going to go through with the plan.  She decided that her luck, of not running into Scout or her daughter Mack, was a sign that yes.  She needed to keep going.  

Anna lifted her head and rummaged through the bag in the passenger seat.  When her hands closed around what she was looking for, she scanned the parking lot to be sure nobody was watching, and she tore off the black wig and replaced it with a baseball cap with two red braids hanging from the back.  She threw the glasses in the bag and looked at her reflection in the rearview mirror.  

“Perfect,” she whispered to herself.  She started the car and pulled out of the lot.  She would drive slower to give the group a head start.  She’d catch up with them in Alexandria.  And tomorrow night, the fun would begin.

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