Being a hardware heiress wasn’t exactly what Shira dreamed of as a child. As she lay in bed listening to her morning alarm, she felt even more trapped than she did by that sweaty, heavy, alcohol-drenched mass she only half remembered. She shivered and shook off distant yet not dissipated memories.

As she sat up, she eyed the orange apron of her work uniform with such fierce hate that she was surprised it didn’t spontaneously combust. If only she had the power to do such a feat all those years ago. She smirked as she imagined that strange man bursting into flames and screaming. She buried her face in her hands feeling frustrated and confused. Why did she even stick around?

Over the course of her young life, she envisioned the many ways she left her situation. She saw herself living someone else’s life full of laughter and joy. Often inspired by true stories of escape and flight, she imagined herself somewhere so far away she’d never be found.

Shira drifted into a daydream of having Tommy Macpherson’s resolve. He escaped from a Nazi prisoner of war camp after two years of torture and then escaped again after the Gestapo recaptured him. Although she knew she needed Juliane Koepcke’s courage to even begin her journey to a new life where she could feel some level of safety and comfort.


That seemed to be the missing ingredient. She felt strong and capable while envisioning others escaping and surviving, but when she looked around at her world, she felt small and unable. She scoffed as she looked around her ostentatious penthouse apartment which was overflowing with every material thing a woman could want. When Shira heard her chef in the kitchen making her breakfast, she cringed.

It’s time.

She couldn’t take it any longer.

Her thoughts drifted with sad fondness to her three sisters and all the strange paths they took to try to shake the weight of that midnight visit during their childhood. Ali took that sexual deviance and made it hers by becoming a Playboy bunny. On the outside she had it all but Shira knew that Ali cried herself to sleep every night.

Cari became an elementary school teacher and tried to help as many young children as possible. While this seems to be a noble profession, she was really only trying to save herself, over and over again.

Rily never made it out of high school. She escaped by overdosing when she learned she was pregnant. Shira knew that Rily was probably the happiest of them all.

Not anymore.

Shira threw her orange apron into the stainless steel trashcan. Then she lit that most heinous symbol of her father and his strange visitor on fire.  She grabbed her go-bag which had clothes and cash in it.   As she walked out the door of her tortured and privileged life, she began to laugh and breathe more deeply than she ever had before.

**This is a short story written for a contest in response to a prompt asking me to write about a stranger. Visit me there and like and share my work!**

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