The light turned green and she watched as the cars turned through the intersection. A wave of relief washed over her knowing the person decided to drive off and not bother her further. She waited for the hand to appear on the crosswalk and started across, picking up her jogging pace again and continuing on.
She passed the old Dunkin’ Donuts shop, now closed due to moving to the other side of the street and a few feet further down. Behind that stretched a large a large parking lot lined with an assortment of shops. A Target took up one full side, but the rest were locally owned, including her favorite tea shop. She glanced toward it as she passed, looking for the small table they set outside with the purple and white striped umbrella. As her gaze scanned over the area, she caught sight of a dark sports car. Her pace slowed down as she studied it, feeling the hair on the back of her neck stand up. The driver, obscured by the shadow of the roof, sat in the seat watching her as she passed by.
She pushed herself to speed up, remembering she didn’t carry anything to help her with her self defense tonight. “Fuck…” she muttered under her breath. She felt foolish for letting herself get distracted. Her sister always made her promise, when they lived together, to take extra caution and make sure she didn’t fall into danger. Having her pepper spray and her alarm button was all she relied on, and now she didn’t have it.
She put a hand to the pocket in her shorts, feeling for the familiar rectangle of her phone. The music continued playing in her ears, signaling to her that she still had it. Yet that irrational feeling that it was gone and she was without help egged at her mind. Knowing it was there, she could grab her phone out and call for help if she needed. That gave her some comfort.
She slowed her pace a bit as she passed the mechanic shop and nearby hospital, feeling that she probably passed far enough away from the person to be safe. And maybe it was just a coincidence. Maybe she was being paranoid. Her mind wasn’t in the right place after the breakup, which everyone told her was to be expected. It was probably overthinking, drawing conclusions. He could easily have thought she was someone else. Once he realized his mistake, he kept going to the outdoor shopping area, and now waited for someone.
She tried to push the thoughts from her head, focusing on the road in front of her and trying to think about other things, better things. Now that Freddy broke up with her, she figured she could spend more time on social media. When she had broken up with Aaren, her boyfriend prior to Freddy, that was what she told herself to do. Focus on herself, give herself time to move on and get used to the new norm. That time had been different, though. They were only together for a few months and she had called it off.
But this time, she had been dumped and they had been dating for a year. They had made plans, they were going to move in together soon. She knew his parents, he knew her parents and her sister. They knew each other’s goals and dreams; how he wanted a large family and she wasn’t so sure about it but they had time to figure it out. She wanted to get her content creating to take off and then maybe start selling some merchandise. Meanwhile, he wanted to open his own gym one day and make it affordable so those less well off could have the same access as others.
She just didn’t understand where it went wrong.
And she was already tired of agonizing over it. Her community, thankfully, was understanding when she said she needed to cancel the night’s live stream. Everyone told her to take the time she needed, to give herself a break, that they would all be there waiting for when she felt better–minus Your_Lying_Vows. And though she appreciated it, she almost wished they weren't as understanding. If they had told her to just get over it, to push through and keep creating, she would have. Now, she felt silly for letting a break-up get in the way of her dreams and her goals. And what she wanted to be her job.
Sure, it was just a few days, but she felt that was more than enough time when it all depended on her. It wasn’t the same as going to an office job with a boss. She was her boss.
She slowed to a walk to help her catch her breath some more. As her pace slowed, she stretched her hands above her head and took in a deep breath to fill her chest. She glanced around, noting the way traffic began to shrink. Most people were already home, or almost there, with their work done and ready to spend time relaxing. The only things in the area were a grocery store, some more apartments, and a fast food joint.