The Last Mile is The Hardest

Gwen looks at the ground as she walks from the bus stop. She does not want anyone to notice her. She certainly does not want to be recognized. She is dressed nice, if plainly. A simple, light-pink tee-shirt and blue jeans bought at a thrift shop. Her hair is pulled back in a pony-tail, a style she almost never wore in the past. Ambling down the street she realizes it is doubtful anyone knows who she is. They will though, when she walks up to the house.

It has been months since she walked up to that house. The last time she walked up that side-walk was months ago. That is not entirely true. It has been longer. The last time she was here she crawled and stumbled up the sidewalk, taking a detour to the willow in the front yard to vomit up half of what she drank that night. Her father rushed out to help her inside while her mother shook her head. He begged her not to go out the next night, but she did anyway.

Her friend had been even more intoxicated than Gwen, so half in the bag, she took the other woman’s keys and started the car. They did not even get out of the  municipal parking lot. Fortunately she was not going fast enough to hurt anyone when she drove the big Buick into the rear corner of the bank, but the cops were right there.

Now it has been six months of jail time and rehab. Six months of reflecting on how she lived her life. Mostly six months at least, as Gwen realizes she spent the first week or two in angry denial. That was before hearing everyone else’s stories. Friends crippled, families left in economic ruin and one woman who has to live with the knowledge that she killed a little boy. Gwen knows how lucky she is.

She knows and is ashamed. She lifts her head to see that walkway and those steps and is afraid. They will never trust her, she believes, and they are right to feel that way. It is the only place she has to go, however, so she puts her head down, and puts one foot in front of the other.


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