One Day at a Time

Her picture sits in my lap as I wait for the meeting to begin. It’s only been eleven days but it feels like an eternity. My parents keep telling me to stay out of it; that I need to grieve.

“One day at a time,” they say, as if a few words can heal the gaping hole in my chest. They think the police can handle it but they haven’t done a damn thing. I can’t just sit back and do nothing.

“Is it your first time?”

I jump in my seat and pull her photo to my chest. He stands next to my chair, holding out a cup of the crap coffee they always serve at these things. I smile and accept it, taking in his Armani suit that probably cost more than my car.

“Not quite,” I say, turning my attention to the front of the room where a middle aged man approaches the podium. I nod toward the front, ending our chat. I can’t be distracted; not tonight. He smiles before walking to the front and sitting down.

I place her picture back in my lap before glancing around the room. It’s the fifteenth meeting I’ve been to this week. About twenty people make their way to the seats set up in neat rows in front of the podium. The middle aged man starts off the meeting before turning it over to Mr. Armani.

I tune him out while I observe the rest of the group. Some are attentive, hanging on to his every word like they actually enjoy being here. Others look down at the floor, the shame clear in their eyes even though anonymity is the name of the game.

Mr. Armani’s words pull me out of my thoughts as my gaze shifts back to the front.

“Something terrible happened…”

“I can never forgive myself…”

I lean forward, hanging on to his words. I shouldn’t think too much of them. They’re common in these sorts of meetings but something about him is off. He isn’t looking for forgiveness.

He’s looking for pity.

My hand reaches up to cover the smile that spreads across my face. Before I’m noticed, I sneak out to the parking lot and maneuver through the vehicles. Toward the back of the lot, a brand new BMW sits all by itself. As I move closer, I can’t stop the tears from pouring down my face. The right, front headlight is shattered; the hood dented. I bend down and touch the mangled car. I hear the screeching tires; the empty bottle shattering on the ground; her screams tearing through the night.

Voices approach and I move quickly back to my car. I slip inside and wait. He’s one of the last to leave, most likely taking condolences on his recent troubles. I pull out her picture again and stare at her beautiful face.

“One day at a time,” I whisper to the empty car. I unfold the article for the millionth time and read the headline that’s haunted me for the past eleven nights.

Older Sister Witnesses Twelve-Year-Old Killed by Hit & Run Driver

I watch as he saunters over to his car, his smug smile returning to his face. He tears out of the parking lot and I follow a few seconds later. It only takes a few minutes to get to the bridge.

As I pull up alongside him, I bring her picture to my lips and kiss her goodbye.

16 Comments on “One Day at a Time

  1. Oh, so chilling, Arden. The lead up to the reveal is nicely paced — I wasn’t exactly sure right away why she was attending the meeting, thinking maybe she was the drunk driver. But this is what you do so well in all of your stories — the switcharoo. A magician’s sleight of hand. When I know it is Mr. Armani, I want her to run him off the road. Great job.

  2. I’m also one of the pitchfork and torches mob who hopes he was run off the road! I really liked the idea of her going from meeting to meeting looking for “the one who did it.” Very creative piece, Arden.

  3. Loved this! I like how you left it up in the air at the end so that I can choose to have him plummet to his death 😉

  4. You drew me in from the beginning. At first, I wasn’t sure where it was going, but in a good, enticing way. The story was so clearly and well written. The ending, bringing everything full circle. Very well written!

  5. I’m with Meg; I thought she was going to the meeting for herself at first. You did the twist brilliantly. If I read it right, she’d been going to several meetings hoping to find him, yes? Brilliant. 🙂

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