Two: Mysterious Notes
Susan had been alternating between walking and running for almost a month. She was working a half-day schedule at the kids' school. The emotional distance between her and Jerry had grown; she realized one day that the days when she ran were the ones in which they communicated the least. Even the sarcasm had disappeared. They had been married for over 13 years and from time to time would have a spurt of troubles, but it seemed to be taking longer to get over this one. They both had a definite understanding of responsibilities but neither shirked them. It was odd, as though life was painted in shades of gray. They didn't dislike each other; each just stopped being concerned about what the other had going on in life.
The couple had seen too many friends divorce since they had been married; it was wearying, watching both service members and civilians become unable to hold onto marital status. Susan knew the only reason they'd made it this far was because they were both too stubborn to give up. Were they coming up to the time to throw in the towel? Susan put away the thought, not wanting to contemplate it any more. She could let the problem run its course, just as it always had throughout the relationship. If any rash decision was going to be made, she wasn't going to be the one to do it.
It was time for her Wednesday night walk. Like clockwork, there was the big white church bus loading up all the men who were trying to reform themselves. She'd learned about them at the thrift store; they were people who fell on bad circumstances, fought back from drugs, and reached out for help. Susan never noticed anyone in particular; just that it was a large group. She hoped all the men decided to keep their lives clean. She didn't know much about them and didn't want to find out, but she was glad they were getting some assistance in their lives. She hoped they were, anyway.
As she strolled down toward the dog walk something caught her attention. It was a sort of pile of pebbles and mulch. Then when she got closer, she noticed that pile actually spelled something. "Hi" was written out on the sidewalk. Susan looked around and figured it was probably something the neighborhood children had done, practicing writing words. She thought nothing of it and continued with her exercise routine. As she walked, though, she wondered - why wouldn't kids just get some chalk and write the words? It was odd.
She'd forgotten about it when, a couple days later, she came upon another pile of pebbles and mulch. This time the word, "Hello", was spelled out. She smiled. How cute of the kids to continue using their imagination this way. Now she thought, "Why write something in chalk? People would just walk over and smudge it." They'd walk around something spelled out in pebbles and things, though, just as she'd done.
The next day, a cloud cover arrived and for the rest of the week record amounts of rain fell. Susan hated missing her evening workout but appreciated the break in her routine because she was able to catch up on neglected housework.
By Monday of the next week, the weather had cleared. Susan forced herself to restart the walks, and though the effort was hit-and-miss at first, by week two she was walking daily. When she came across another pebble-written "Hello", she dismissed it, but on Friday evening, a message stopped her in her tracks.
"Hi blue shirt" was the message written out. There was a sprig of rosemary beside it, like a wild flower left with a hand-drawn card. She was shocked to realize that just the day before she had on a blue sports top when she walked by that area!
Had these letters been meant for her all along? The hair stood up on the back of her neck as she walked away. Blood pulsed through her temples at an acc