Roxy could feel the burn with every foot fall. She thought that the longer she would go, the pain would subside. However, the shin splints just raged on. But proceed, she must.
The world around her consumed the remaining senses. The branches that she didn’t quite miss tore new holes into her clothes and flesh, but the adrenaline ensured she felt none of it.
Except for these damned shin splints.
Voices cried out. The faster she went, the further away the sounds.
The forest trees would hide her well if she were clever, but she wasn’t trained as a tracker or hunter or anything at all. So she ran – deeper and deeper – hoping that the forest would end or her pursuers would get bored and run back.
Musing slightly, Roxy started to remember the days preceding this one. A red ruby started it all.
Her mother’s voice cried out, “How could you?!”
Roxy remembered how she clenched her fists and teeth. She heard the slap and the screams – felt it in her teeth, and Darryl, the brute, was standing with her mother sobbing on the floor.
“The ruby…” her mother cried, “my husband’s–”
Filled with rage, Roxy crashed into Darryl. She had surprised him. He landed against the wall, nearly breaking through the panel. She wasn’t about to stick around. She fled her home. Her feet carried her to her friend’s house where they drowned their woes.
The sobs still echoed through her, and she dug at her skin. There had to be something she could do. Something.
Roxy left the house that night not knowing how she was going to get it back.
“Look. We’re closing, girl. No browsing,” he said to her. She barely realized she was inside the pawn shop.
“I won’t be long,” she muttered to herself.
She walked straight to the cabinet with the jewelry. The ruby wasn’t there, but there were plenty to choose from. She pointed at the one she wanted, but her request was not fulfilled. With more immediacy, she growled, “Let me see that one.”
Her finger tapped the glass forcefully, but rather than hear a tap, she heard a shatter. Glass flew everywhere, and possibly on her own hand. None of that mattered right now.
She grabbed it and all those around it. Sprinting out the door, the sounds of the shop owner were drowned out only by the sound of cars. She ran into the forest at the end of the parking lot, convinced she would lose her pursuer.
She climbed a tree and fell asleep as she waited for daylight.
Roxy was awakened by the sun, her body stiff and sore. It took a few seconds to understand her surroundings. She blinked confusedly at the sun. It was moving faster than she remembered it ever doing.
“Get down here!” she heard. “Get out of that rocket!”
The gruff voice echoed in the small space. She turned her head and noticed the metal bars and ceiling.
Below her there were flashing lights and the sound of her mother calling out her name.
Roxy came down from the rocket. The contents of her pockets spilled out onto the grass. How did I get from the tree to the playground? Why am I surrendering to the cops?
The metal burned against her scar-ridden arms, and she calmly sat down.
“Yes, officer. She stole from me,” her mother said. Tears streamed down her wrinkled face. “She broke Darryl’s ribs and slapped me before she stole it.”
“The pawn shop is pressing charges. Did you want to, as well?”
There was some hesitation before she said, “Yes.”
Roxy laid her head back and closed her eyes. Stay. Stay with me. I can’t do this without you.
But she was sobering up. Everything hurt, especially those bloody shin splints.