While the rest of the house slept, she silently sipped her coffee and eyeballed the bag waiting by the door. Mentally, she inventoried its contents as she crossed the kitchen; she hoped she had not forgotten anything vitally important.
She grabbed the pen and notepad off the fridge and padded barefoot to the old pine table where she hastily scribbled a goodbye note to her family. Normally, she was the one left behind, as one by one as they departed each day for school and work. But today she was the one leaving.
The kids were old enough—they’d be fine on their own. Her husband—well, he had his work and he’d never even notice her absence.
She anchored the note to the table with a box of corn flakes, rinsed her cup in the sink, scratched the cat’s ears one last time. Opening the back door a crack, she drank deeply of the warm late-August air and prayed that this was the right decision, that in finally considering her own needs she was not neglecting those of her loved ones.
She stepped into her shoes, reciting a silent mantra: “You can do this, you deserve this.” Grabbing her bag from the floor and the car keys from the counter, she squared her shoulders and stepped out into the early morning, a sense of freedom and empowerment replacing doubt as she closed the door quietly behind her.
Today, she knew, would be the hardest. New starts were never easy, but surely if she could make it through today, the days ahead would get easier. Just as her children had each survived their first days of elementary then middle then high school, she reassured herself that, as a grown woman, she could survive this, her first day of college.
Today’s flash fiction inspiration comes from Trifecta: Week Eighty-Six, a challenge to use the third definition of the word crack in a piece of 33 to 333 words (mine is 299).
3a : a narrow break : fissure <a crack in the ice>
b : a narrow opening <leave the door open a crack><cracks between floorboards> —used figuratively in phrases like fall through the cracks to describe one that has been improperly or inadvertently ignored or left out <a player who fell through the cracks in the college draft> <children slipping through the cracks of available youth services>
Today’s photo, other than the fact that it IS a crack, has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. I took the picture on my walk yesterday, oblivious to Trifecta’s challenge, because I was frankly stunned that after all the rain we had between April 2012 and April 2013 the fields could possibly be dry enough to crack so deeply. Guess that’s clay soil for you.