(Character descriptions)

Chicago, 2009 — Kelly aimlessly flicked through the channels, trying to find one that had nothing to do with the news.

She didn’t want to think about it. Not now, not ever again. A slightly impossible thing to do when she and Connor had been directly involved. And one of them had to live with not just the emotional scars, but physical ones as well.

She turned off the TV and set the remote on the coffee table. Grabbing both pillows, she stacked them on top of each other and then buried her face in them as she curled up on the couch, sniffling.

One week since the worst of it was over, at least in the physical sense. Nightmares were harder to get rid of.

Her puffy, red-rimmed eyes darted to her watch. Connor should have been home ten minutes ago.

He’s probably stuck in traffic, she told herself, though it did little to comfort her, considering what they had gone through just last week.

Ten more minutes passed. Kelly sat up and walked over to the door, looking through one of the windows beside it. After another five minutes with her husband still not showing up, she tried to call him.

Only to hear the ringtone from his cellphone pipe up from the kitchen.

Not again, she thought, running into the room and snatching up the ringing cellphone from the counter where it was charging. “Oh, Connor.”

She sat in a chair at the table, still holding both phones. All the ‘what ifs’ started marching through her mind, accompanied by her imagination providing her with images to match.

Stop it. Stop it! It’s not real!

A lump formed in her throat and she set the phones down to cover her mouth with both hands. Don’t cry, don’t cry, he’s okay, he’s okay.

Was he?

She hugged herself and squeezed her eyes shut against the tears. She rocked herself back and forth, saying, “Stay calm. Stay calm.”


 She turned. Connor stood in the doorway between the kitchen and garage, setting down plastic bags full of groceries. “Are you-”

 She tackled him in a hug mid-sentence. He nearly stumbled off the step, but recovered his balance quickly and hugged her back.

“You forgot your cellphone, again,” she said, her voice somewhat muffled. “Where were you?”


“I figured. But I couldn’t stop thinking of-” She cut herself off and hugged him tighter.

“Oh.” He cleared his throat, meaning he was going to try and find a way to cheer her up. “Um…uh…sweetheart, if you hug me any tighter, I’m going to turn into an hourglass.”

A small smile tugged at her face and came into full bloom when she looked up to see him smiling too.

Connor brushed back a strand of hair that had fallen in her face. “We’re okay,” he said softly. “We’re both okay.”

©H.S. Kylian 2019

(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)

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