Cheap, Knit Gloves
By Laura McHale Holland

It was after he had rolled off of her that the sandbag landed on her chest, before she could even consider her options. He stood up, put the knife he’d held at her throat in his back pocket and zipped up his pants with fingers that looked like striped Twinkies in his cheap, knit gloves. They were just like the gloves she’d seen hanging by the checkout line at the drugstore last week. She’d wondered at the time why anyone would buy them. Now she was trying hard not to look at the masked man who could have purchased that very pair. He slinked to her side, leaned down and growled into her ear, told her to count to 500 before she moved a muscle or he’d come back and finish her off.

She could barely breathe, the fear and dread and shame pressing down on her chest were so extreme. She didn’t dare even blink as he climbed out the window he’d come through while she was sleeping what seemed like a lifetime ago. She counted silently, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000— on and on she counted.

Through the sunrise she counted and then through the sunset. She counted until the moon came out and hung so close to her window it was as though someone had swept the earth’s atmosphere completely away, and her tears began to flow and then the sand poured out. She took a deep breath, lifted her arm, rolled over and picked her cell phone up from the headboard where she’d left it the night before.

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