Early Morning

The kids, having slept in their clothes and already packed their bags, stood ready in the kitchen, just like they’d practiced a dozen times before. Mom, with a small bag of her own, put a finger to her lips, a silent shushing. They were up before the sun, when they stepped outside, the frosty morning nipped at their noses and cheeks. Together, holding hands, they walked halfway down the block to where the car had been parked the day before. As they climbed into the car with their heavy winter coats and their pre-packed luggage, it took a moment to get settled. The mom began to worry that they were taking too long, that her resolve might waver. A light caught her eye in the rearview mirror. The porch light had flicked on, and the front door was opening. She fumbled for the keys and started the car. A figure stepped out onto the porch and out into the middle of the street. She thought she saw a knife reflecting the light as she stomped on the gas and the car lurched down the street.