She flits around the room, seeming to know everything and be everything to anyone she meets. It only takes a minute to become her friend, even if she doesn’t know your name; you can be sure she will hug you as she moves to the next person or activity. Frozen margaritas slide down her throat like water, and she freely spends the wad of cash in her purse. A donation to this club, a purchase of ten T-shirts from that one – she is on a high taller than Mount Everest. Her laughter is loud, carrying across the room. She seems to talk constantly. You know that later tonight she will be in bed with someone from the party. It could be a man, could be a woman; her voracious sexual appetites cannot be contained. You smile a little and force yourself to turn away from her. If only you could be the one – but she’s already done with you. As you lean against the balcony railing, you feel a warm presence behind you, followed by hot breath on your neck and arms wrapping around your waist. “Come back to the party,” she whispers. A smile grows on your face as you turn to follow her. Maybe she’s not done with you after all.
Kathleen paces around her tiny apartment, misery growing with every step. “I can’t stand this anymore,” she tells her cat, her voice breaking a little. “I have to get out of here. I have to disappear. I can’t do what they want; it’s futile to even try.” The small black and white cat tilts her head questioningly. Kathleen tries to think of the best way out. She knows she doesn’t really want to die, but if that’s what it takes to escape, she’ll do it. The last ten days alone in the apartment have been horrible, except when she was able to sleep. Sometimes she used her medicines to help that along. Unexpectedly, she realizes what she has to do and even has the motivation to do it. She lets the cat out, puts a few random items in a bag and stuffs the little cash she has in her pockets. It’s not a long walk in the darkness to get to the highway. She stands in a grassy area watching the trucks go by, feeling small next to them. She waves to them, and finally one stops. “Where you goin’?” asks a gravelly voice from inside. “Anywhere,” she mumbles. “Got money?” “A little.” “Well, if you want to ride with me you’ll have to do what I say. That agreeable?” Kathleen’s heart sinks. “Sure,” she replies dully, climbing into the truck’s cab. She doesn’t look at the man, only watches the road ahead. She holds her breath as they near the edge of town, but he doesn’t stop, and soon they are driving between tall pine trees. Kathleen sighs and leans back on the seat. Escape at last.