This is a preview to the chapter Chapter Six from the book PERSONAL BAGGAGE by Margaret McMillion.
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Drawing her robe closer against the cold in her air-conditioned house, she warmed a cup of Johnny’s leftover coffee in the microwave. Too tense to feel hunger, she gathered dirty clothes from the bathroom hamper, stripped their beds, and started the washer.
She pulled on shorts and running shoes, untangled Zac’s leash, and walked out through the garage to his pen. Zac jumped up ready to go, then sat panting while Penny stretched her legs. Starting this late there shouldn’t be much traffic since most of the neighbors were already at work. Zac ran in front, straining his leash to go faster. At the end of the driveway, they turned left toward the corner, then climbed the hill to a new area under development.
Reaching the top, heart pounding, sucking air, Penny realized that she had been counting every step. Was something wrong with her mind? Nobody cared how many steps it took to get up the hill, and her brain played that infernal tune over, and over, and over...like an obsession!
At the dead end, pausing for Zac to sniff around and do his business, she noticed little puffs of dust rising from beneath her pet’s paws. The searing sun was baking the earth, and the lopsided fireball appeared to be melting itself as it blasted down brilliant-yellow light.
Her return run seemed shorter. As she stopped at the end of her driveway to collect the mail, Penny accidentally dropped the leash, and Zac picked up the hand loop with his teeth. He trotted through the yard and jumped up, panting frantically, to sit beside Penny on the bench at the edge of the woods. The air was so muggy that breathing was an achievement. Penny held the front of her damp shirt away from her body and flapped it back and forth to move air beneath it, but the heat clung to her like moist wool. She flipped through the envelopes trying to pick out bills so she could throw away the junk mail, but Johnny had paid the bills for so long that she couldn’t recognize what was important.
On her way to the shower, she phoned Dixiana CCU. A monitor alarm was ringing in the background when Maureen answered, and the familiar sound comforted Penny. “Hi Maureen. Have you heard anything about Mrs. Spoonhouse?”
“Dr. Scales says she’s doing fine. He rushed out of here all huffy-like when I asked him.”
“Then I was wrong.”
“You did what you thought was right. “A stitch in time—you know.”
Doubting her judgement, Penny reconsidered yesterday’s events in the shower, but by the time she put the finishing spray on her hair, she concluded that in a do-over she would still have pushed to send Mrs. Spoonhouse to Jacksonville.
She slipped on a new purple tee shirt along with black jeans. If she hurried she could get back from buying groceries in time to fix Johnny’s lunch.
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