Ella sat on the stoop of her building and smoked a cigarette. It had been months since she’d picked up a pack of American Spirits at the gas station but tonight she was on edge.
She’d been on edge for a few days. She couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was orchestrating her death.
Yesterday she’d gone to therapy and shared all about it with Tom. He’d been seeing her since she got out of the hospital last month. It was part of her treatment plan to see him three times a week.
He was nice enough. Quiet and inquisitive, seemingly non-judgemental, though he would raise his eyebrows slightly when Ella told him about the person who was planning her death.
It was the entire reason she’d ended up in the psych ward anyway. They wouldn’t let her out until she agreed she was delusional. And then she had to see Tom weekly to prove she was okay.
Sitting on the stoop things didn’t feel okay. There’d been so much construction around her place and getting to work every day meant she had to take new paths to arrive there. Ella didn’t like going down new paths.
She liked her routines and she didn’t approve of being taken out of a comfortable place. A comfortable place like taking 28th all the way down to Broad street and turning left into her office.
She crushed her cigarette and lit another thinking about the path to work she had driven earlier in the day.
She could usually just drive down 28th but because of all the road work she was detoured down Elliot Avenue, up to Larch and then Lincoln, finally it brought her down Aster road and she was finally able to get back on 28th.
It all felt composed in some way, and there was something she couldn’t put her finger on about all of it.
More than anything she hated taking the freeway, too many cars close to her driving past, but tonight she was considering taking the freeway tomorrow instead of following the trepidatious detours to work.
She crushed out her second cigarette and went to bed feeling uneasy.
Ella had dealt with unstable emotions and anxiety for most of her life. She was aware that some of it was self-created and also had a feeling of knowing that her life was unusual and someone had been watching her for a long time waiting to kill her. She didn’t know who it was and the thought was an obsession. It wouldn’t leave her.
She rolled restlessly in her bed and dreamt of driving in her car, getting in a crash and not being able to exit the vehicle while it burst into flames.
At 6am she woke from her fitful night of sleep and put a pot of water on the stove to make a french press. She was still thinking she might take the freeway today.
Her coffee did little to ease her nerves. Mostly it aggravated it. She sat and watched the sun come up while she drank it and couldn’t help thinking today…it happens today.
She left early knowing it would take longer with the detours and she made a final decision to go with them rather than taking the freeway. Shortly after hitting 28th the first road block came. Elliot, to Larch, to Lincoln, to Aster.
Today Aster was closed off to 28th since new construction had started and she went down Dowling Avenue turning right at Isle parkway, moving left to Emerson Ave. then right on Stanford street. It would eventually lead her to a right on 28th and back on her path to work.
It took all of two seconds after taking a right on Stanford before her left brain kicked into gear and got it. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t seen it earlier. It was an acronym of her future.
The first letters of each street she was forced down pronounced her death. Ella dies.
She quickly detoured off Stanford and went straight down 28th to Tom’s office instead of going to her work.
He had to know she wasn’t crazy. He had to know that she knew this was coming and she wasn’t delusional.
In a frenzy she parked sideways outside his small office and ran in. He was standing there and turned to look at her while she spilled her awareness onto him in a rambling tale of detours, arranged plans for her death, and telling him she wasn’t crazy.
He raised his eyebrows slightly and said,
“Yes, and today is the 28th of the month”.
His knife went swift and deep into Ella’s heart.
She was right all along.