Looking Back

Contributor: Janet Yung

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The old, light blue, faded mini-van moved slowly down the street, pausing for a moment in front of the house. Emily wouldn’t have noticed except she was in the yard adjusting the sprinkler set up to water the newly laid sod.

“Twice a day, one hour each for two weeks till it takes,” the landscaper who’d installed it the previous week advised. Emily stuck to the regimen in spite of the slightly water logged appearance it was taking on. “It’s doing okay,” the landscaper said in response to Emily’s frantic call regarding it’s condition.

Stooped by the faucet behind the shrubs, she glanced up as the van crept by. The water sprayed droplets on the driver’s side with the sign advertising yard clean ups specializing in scooping poop.

It could’ve been any old van, similar to the ones that trolled the alleys for junk. Emily would’ve thought that was the case or, she’d imagined the whole thing, except for the sign.

She crouched lower and hoped she hadn’t been spotted. The van moved on when a woman in a S.U.V. suddenly appeared from nowhere and honked her horn.

Emily anxiously waited and tried to focus on the sprinkler’s range as she contemplated the possibility the van had turned left at the end of the street to circle the block and make another pass by. When no vehicles materialized, she sprinted along the lawn as the spray moved away from her.

Inside the security of the house, she pressed her back against the door. What would she do? If she’d been at work, she wouldn’t have seen the van. Her mind raced at the prospect it wasn’t the first time it had cruised by and, suddenly, she realized how vulnerable she was.

She set the timer on the kitchen stove for an hour and stood in the familiar space. Emily remembered the sense of relief when the driver and van had disappeared from her life for what she hoped would be forever. Looking back, the events that led up to the departure were still fresh in her memory.

As the minutes ticked by, she alternated between eating cookies, digging through the freezer for a lost pint of ice cream and peeking through the front window, convinced the van would be waiting at the curb, relieved when it wasn‘t.

The longer she waited, the more she was able to convince herself the incident had been nothing more than the by-product of her over active imagination and erstwhile anxieties. She jumped at the sound of the buzzer going off and took one last look before going outside. The street remained empty and quiet.

It didn’t seem possible after all this time he had returned, but as she bent over to retrieve the sprinkler and wind up the hose, she caught a flash of light blue and knew her fears were not ungrounded and couldn’t be ignored.

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Janet Yung lives and writes in St. Louis, MO. Short fiction has appeared in several on-line publications. Most recently “Epiphany Magazine On-Line“ and “The Feathered Flounder”.
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