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The Runaway and Other Stories of Vulnerability







By Kendra Shufelt




The Runaway and Other Stories of Vulnerability

By Kendra Shufelt

Copyright 2018 Kendra Shufelt

Smashwords Edition









Smashwords Edition, License Note.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents


Title……………………………………………………………………………….
Copyright………………………………………………………………………….
Table of Contents………………………………………………………………….
The Runaway………………………………………………………………………
The Savior…………………………………………………………………………
Pictures of You…………………………………………………………………….
The Room………………………………………………………………………….
Here Today Gone Tomorrow………………………………………………………
A Real Rainbow Connection……………………………………………………….
About the Author…………………………………………………………………...


The Runaway


Stale tobacco and secondhand smoke filled Alyson’s nose the second she hopped into the cab of the tractor trailer. The woman beside her, clothed in a coffee stained white button up shirt with torn jeans, looked back at the blonde who was now sat in the passenger seat.

“You alright, sweetheart?” The woman asked.

“Maybe..” Alyson said.

“You want to talk about it?” The woman looked at Alyson for a split second before turning her attention back to the road. “Don’t feel like you have to. Just thought I’d lend an ear. You look like you’ve had a rough night.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that.”

Alyson stared out of the window, watching the snow fall to the ground. It was fresh and thin, the kind that wouldn’t stick or last too long in its slushy form.

“I found my boyfriend cheating on me. He had said that he was helping his mom at home. He was at my former roommate’s house. I went to bring her something that she had left at my apartment. The curtains were open and…” Alyson spoke up, her voice in a low tone.

“Say no more,” The woman cut her off, which was something Alyson was very thankful for. “I’m Joanne.”

“Alyson.”

“Nice to meet you, sweetheart. Where ya headin’?” Joanne asked.

“Anywhere but here,” Alyson laughed in disbelief. “The only reason I’m even in this city is because of him. He just had to go to school here. He begged me to apply to UAlbany. I could have stayed with my family in Buffalo. I could be comfortable. Instead, I’m hours away from home and away from my family, working my butt off to afford my apartment and save up to pay off my student loans.”

Joanne sat silent. The young woman needed someone to listen without judgement and that was what she’d give her.

“Four years. Since Junior year of high school. This is how he shows his love.” Alyson had run out of tears. She’d spent too much time crying over him as she walked through the busy city of Albany, where she’d found Joanne standing outside of the truck, the two were now in.

“Mind if I smoke?” Joanne looked at Alyson as she searched for a response.

“No, go ahead.” Alyson nodded her head to the woman. Just as she responded, Joanne held the teal pack of cigarettes out to Alyson.

Alyson took a cigarette from the pack with the lighter that was tucked to the side of the pack. She brought the small flame to her lips in her left hand, while her right hand held the cigarette between her lips. She took a small drag from the cigarette as it became lit.

With a sigh, she leaned back against the seat and continued to smoke in silence.

“You know, he’s a boy. A child,” Joanne mirrored Alyson’s previous actions, lighting the cigarette before she set the pack in the cup holder between the women. “A man doesn’t hurt the woman he loves. A man doesn’t betray someone who has done so much to show their love and devotion. You’re a good girl. I can tell that you’ve done so much for him and I’m very sorry that you’re going through this. You deserve so much better and I know that in time, when it’s the right time, you will. Want to stop for a snack?” Joanne pulled into a rest area, parking to the right side of the lot, which was designated for tractor trailers.

“I’m fine, thanks. You go ahead, I’ll be here.” Alyson smiled, putting the cigarette out in the small ashtray that sat in a cup holder.

Joanne gave Alyson a smile and walked through the dimly lit parking lot. She felt sorry for her, which is exactly what she wanted.

She watched as Joanne entered the building then climbed into the driver side, starting the engine. She grinned and turned on the radio as she began to drive out of the lot.

“Twenty-year-old Alyson Martinez has been missing from Buffalo, NY since last Thursday. She was last seen wearing black jeans, a purple pea-coat with purple boots. She is about five feet and four inches tall. Has blonde hair and green eyes. If you see her, be cautious. She is unarmed, but very dangerous. Her roommate has gone on record to say that she had been off her medication for a little over a month. If you see her, please call your local authorities with information.”


The Savior


Purple Old Navy flip flops brushed along the dirt covered concrete causing rocks to shoot across the pavement every few feet. With legs dressed in goosebumps and shorts that left little to the imagination, Alyson crossed her arms, bare from the shoulder down. When she imagined her summer vacation, the last thing she pictured was spending her last night walking the dimly lit and sometimes midnight streets of Watervliet, New York.  

How she had gotten into this mess, she still didn’t know. The last thing she remembered was the warmth of his body against her back and the brush of his hot breath upon her neck. The music that filled the garage was enough to attract any club goer within a mile of the suburban home that reeked of fresh paint. She could not remember how many drinks she had consumed, only recollecting the sting of the alcohol as it met her throat.  

As she toddled East toward the first traffic light she had seen for what felt like miles, the events of the night began to flood her mind. His cold and calloused hand descended far too low for Alyson’s liking; no being the last thing he wanted to hear and that was clear based on his lack of concern or acknowledgement of the decline.  

Her closed fist clashed with his nose, the sharp crushing of a water bottle released her from the clutches of intoxication. She grew more aware of her surroundings, wasting no time as she staggered to the door across the garage. Her knee collided with a wobbly coffee table, though it did not keep her back. She reached the side door, turning the cold metal handle until the white wooden barricade flew open, crashing into the siding of the garage. The cool air consumed her, wrapping her in a sense of clarity as she wandered off of the property as best as she could.  

That was how Alyson found herself surrounded by the stench of nicotine and death. The woman beside her, clad in bleach splashed jeans and a white yet coffee stained button up work shirt and tired eyes, set on the road ahead. She didn’t ask about the rough and uneven tear in the thin white tank top that wrapped Alyson into its grasp, knowing well enough what had or could have happened.  

"You alright, girl?" The tired, aging woman asked while doing her best not to pry.  

The drive from one end of the small town to the other was short. When the truck came to a halt at a local diner, Alyson reached for the door handle, pulling on the cold metal while leaning onto the door.  

“Thank you.” She spoke at a whisper just as the door opened. Before walking away from the night, she turned to her savior with the tired, dead blue eyes and offered her hand.  

“You’re welcome.” The woman nodded her head to the young girl beside her, whose feet had now met the pavement below. “And safe,” added the woman, nodding Alyson to persuade her to enter the small town’s popular establishment.  

Without a word, Alyson took the few short steps to the glass door of Bob’s Diner, observing the people in the well-known hole-in-the-wall diner. Between the high school kids, that would no doubt give off the strongest stench of alcohol, to the middle-aged regulars that spent most of their visits talking to the waitress, she wondered where she would fit in as she roamed into the establishment. 

“Have a seat anywhere there is a menu.” The waitress spoke, her voice filled with what the blonde could only assume was frustration or boredom. 

As she sat on the cool wooden seat of the booth she had chosen, exhaustion took over. With her head on the table and a sigh, Alyson closed her eyes, saying goodnight to the world


Pictures of You


Leighton stood on the front porch of the white two-family house she lived in on the second floor. In her hands was a purple and white polka dotted wrapped box. The brunette shook the box, her blue eyes fixed on the packaging, wondering what exactly could be inside. Before the neighbors had the chance to wonder just what she was doing, she quickly entered her apartment, setting the box on the table. 

She stood beside the table, looking down at the box. Should she open it? Who exactly could it be from? The small plain green card on the box read, “Leighton, all of the best to you. From a friend.”  

Deciding to open the box to figure out who this mystery gift came from, she pulled off the wrapping paper and removed the top from the box. Staring back at her was a photo album with a blank yellow cover. Leighton removed the album from the box and began to look through the pages, which were filled with many memories she had almost forgotten.  

From various birthdays and days spent at her grandparent’s farm every Summer, the memories came flooding back to her. When she reached the end of the album, she found an envelope with the same pattern found on the wrapping paper that housed the box.  

After opening the envelope, she had found more photos that had yet to be added to the album. Every photo was of her with a young boy, around the same age. He had jet black hair and ocean blue eyes. His nose was coated in freckles and his grin sparked a familiar feeling inside of her.  

As Leighton looked through the photos, she and this boy aged over time. When she reached the last photo, she frowned. How could she have forgotten? The one boy who had always been there for her. The one and only person she’d ever made a promise to. And that promise was to always remember. Always remember their Summers in Malta and the nights spent dancing in the middle of the only paved road in the small Southern town.  

As each memory seemed to hit her like a ton of bricks, a smile grew on her lips. She reached for her phone and searched through her contact. After pressing the small green button on her phone screen, she held the phone to her ears.  

A few rings later and a voice was heard on the other side of the call, “Leighton.”  

“Jamie.” A sigh of relief escaped the brunette’s lips. “It has been a really long time.”


The Room


The unbearably hot air blew into the hotel room through the glass sliding door, which lead to a small patio. A petite blonde woman moved back and forth through the room and to the patio. The hotel room screamed in need of an update, but this hotel was all the blonde could afford.

Every scenario was running through her head as she paced. She could pack her things back home and leave the state, maybe even the country. She could go through with her plans to meet with the hitman she was recommended through the gentleman she met at that local bar she’d gone to just a week before. She could forget the whole thing, act like she didn’t know her husband was a lying snake.

A hard knock on the door pulled her from her thoughts. Her eyes moved from the soft emerald green carpet below her feet to the door. Her fingers intertwined nervously as she approached the door. She took hold of the icy cold metal of the door handle and turned it to open the door. The man at the door greeted her with a smile.

“Ma’am.” He removed his hat as nodded to her.

“Hello. Thank you for coming.” She said softly as she took a few steps back to allow him entrance into the hotel room. When he entered, she shut the door and turned her attention to him.

“When do you want this done?” He asked while pulled out a notepad from his breast pocket and took a seat atop the ugly outdated comforter wrapped around the germ-infested bed closest to the door.

“Today..” The blonde said. Her eyes never met the man before her and she did her best not to. How could someone respect someone like her? Ordering a stranger to kill her husband isn’t something someone should respect.

“Alright. I will meet with you again tonight to tell you how it goes.” He smiled at her before standing up. He reached his hand out to her.

She politely shook his hand before watching him leave beyond the old pale door.

That was seven hours ago.

For six months, her husband had been working late and attending last minute meetings. She hoped he thought she was smarter than to believe those lies, especially knowing her own brother was his boss. At first, the meetings and late nights happened every so often, only to happen almost every night. Then it happened. She confronted him about it. Asked him where he really was. She refused to take his lies for the truth. Becoming fed up with her and her allegations, that’s when the abuse began. She couldn’t take it anymore. The lies and the abuse were becoming too much. As much as she loved her husband, she couldn’t do it anymore. She couldn’t take his punches, lies, and nasty words. It had to be done.

The blonde sat on the patio, cigarette smoke exiting her lips into the suffocating heat of Las Vegas. She’d been waiting, smoking cigarette after cigarette for the last three hours. She had tried taking a nap beneath the green and yellow striped comforter. She tried watching some television, but as always, there wasn’t much on basic cable.

Finally, she gave up. Sitting on the patio, smoking like a train seemed to be the only way to calm her nerves. Who knows when she would hear from the man who had visited previously in the day.

That was when there was a knock on the door again. A second knock came soon after and the door opened. The man entered the room, the notepad in his hand.

“It is done. The rest of the money, please.” He said, taking a few steps to enter onto the patio. He sat across from her at the glass table onto the cushioned lawn chair. His suit jacket was removed, unlike previously in the day.

“He’s gone? You mean it?” The blonde asked. She wasn’t sure if she should be relieved or miserable.

“Yes.” He said.

Without a word, she reached into her purse, which sat beside her on the concrete patio. She pulled out an envelope and handed it to the gentleman before her.

He took the envelope and counted the cash inside. One thousand dollars. One before the job and one after the job was done.

“He will no longer be able to jerk you around or her for that matter.” He chuckled at his joke.

“Thank you. I appreciate your time.” She said to him and smiled politely.

He stood up, nodding his head to her as he entered the hotel room once again. He walked out of the room while she stayed in her spot on the patio. The last breath of smoke escaped her lips as she finished off her final cigarette. It was all over.


Here Today Gone Tomorrow


It had been four days since Emily ran full speed from the bus stop across the street and through the dull hallways of Mercy Hospital. Her brown hair flowing behind her as she ran soon became the only indication that someone was even passing by the nurses and doctors she encountered on her journey to the ICU.

Generic cleaning product surrounded Emily as she sat in the small room, which currently housed her fiancée. The smell no longer caused her to turn up her nose in disgust. Had it been a few days ago, when she entered the hospital for the first time, she would have been begging to get out of there to enjoy a desperate breath of fresh air. The faint light that came from behind Eric’s hospital bed was the only source of light in the room. It didn’t give much light for Emily to do much of anything but sleep, and sleep she did. At first, sleep was almost impossible, but after a while, the beeping from the heart monitor became music to her ears. The longer it beeped, the longer her soulmate was with her.

A light knock to the wooden door had pulled Emily from her thoughts. She brought her gaze to the doctor who had quietly stepped into the room as she had turned her head.

“Emily. How are you?” He asked as he closed the door behind him with a gentle click.

“Same as yesterday. Yourself?” She gave him as much of a smile as she could.

“Well, thank you. It seems there’s been no change in our friend here as well. His mother has signed a DNR. We have someone who can talk you through things should things go that way.”

Emily responded by nodding. She stood up as the doctor approached Eric and began to check his vitals.

“I’ll be back soon,” she whispered.

Before he could say anything else, Emily was out of the room.

With her eyes locked on the ongoing white and blue checker tiles of the hospital floor, she made her way to a quiet stairway. She sat on the cool concrete steps and leaned her head on the cool white wall beside her. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, in order to fight the tears that threatened to expose her fraudulent strong exterior.

After a few moments of fighting off tears, Emily opened her eyes, only to find that her vision had altered once again. What was once a white wall, covered in colorful posters of reminders to wash your hands and to receive your flu shot, was now white with posters of faded colors that they once were. When she had met Eric, her vision altered, indicating that he was her soulmate.

“No!” Emily stood from her spot on the steps and ran through the hallway into the room that once belonged to her fiancé.

The doctor exited the room with a nurse. As soon as Emily reached the door, she peaked into the small window of the wooden door, the faint beeping from the heart monitor was no longer there to greet her.

“What did you do?” She spat at the doctor as forced her way into the room.

“I had just left his room to update his chart when his heart stopped. We did all we could without disobeying his mother’s wishes. I’m so sorry, Emily.” The doctor set his hand on her shoulder.

The warmth of his touch against the thin fabric of her tee-shirt caused her to pull away. The tears that had begun to push her previously were now freely falling from her once loving eyes.

“Do not touch me.” She shook her head before doing what she had become such a pro at doing, running away.

She ran through the halls, the exact way she did just days before. She ran across the parking lot and through the busy streets of Buffalo. Each honk of a horn or “hey, watch it” only pushed her will to escape even more.

Finally, she reached the park where the two had met when they were just fifteen years old. The old swings rattled as the wind blew them around. The leaves beneath her feet crunched with every step she took on her walk to the wooden castle that sat in the middle of the playground, surrounded by the various play equipment. The small wood chips poked at her bottom as she sat inside the castle’s tower. The walls surrounding her acted as a shield from the cold that had only pushed her to cry more than she had already had.

He was gone. Her full color vision was gone. Her engagement was done. Her future was no longer clear. What was she to do? She sat taking deep breaths in order to return to her steady breathing. When she had finally caught her breath, she thought to herself, what would Eric do in this situation? What would he do if he had lost her? Would he sit in their castle and dwell on the loss?

In the blink of an eye, a voice filled her head, giving her those exact answers. He would fight every single day to do his best to get through it. He would do everything in his power to find happiness in a world of hurt. He would push until he could say he was truly happy. This is what she was going to do.

Careful not to hit her head on the wood above her, Emily crouched her way out of the castle and through the park. The green grass below her was a dull shade, which she would accept over the constant grays, black and white that she had endured before meeting her soulmate in Eric. She returned to the hospital, only this time, instead of ignoring the cars coming and going, she stopped at each corner before crossing. She walked through the sad hallways, turning her nose up at the metaphorical slap in the face of the generic cleaning products. She took her time ascending the stairs at the end of the hallway, taking her time to think things through as she made her way to the fourth floor. She walked into the ICU with her head held high and her will to carry on, if not for herself, then for Eric.

As she walked into the familiar room that she had called home over the last few days, the face of Eric’s mother came into view and soon, she was enveloped in the older woman’s arms as the tears fall from her eyes. The tough exterior was gone once more. She would fight through the pain tomorrow, for today she would grieve the loss.


A Real Rainbow Connection


It was the last night of the year. Jordyn had been three sheets to the wind by ten o’clock and the party was just beginning. Most of those in attendance had just arrived not an hour prior. The fact that she was more than likely the only person there that was over the legal limit was far from on her mind. She had just lost her boyfriend that morning.

She had finally told him that she loved him, but he was not her soulmate. That was after he proposed only a week before, while surrounded by family and close friends on Christmas Eve. Of course, she knew he was not the one. He had gained the color in his vision when he had met her, but she lied and told everyone she did as well. The only ones who knew of her deceit were her parents and closest friends. Jordyn believed that one day, just maybe, he would become her soulmate. Maybe fate would change and grant her that one wish. Unfortunately, fate was taking too long.

Jordyn’s long hair swung wildly around her head as she swayed to the music. Her hips moved ever so slightly as she swung her body side to side to the beat. The room was filled with laughter, jumbled conversations and a sense of change. From the moment she had arrived at the party, her mood was lifted. She was more optimistic. Little did she know, she would soon find out just what that something was. It was eleven thirty and soon she would be leaving Alex and her worries behind in 2016.

“That’s a nice dance you’ve got there.” An unfamiliar voice caught Jordyn’s attention.

She quickly turned her head, taking in the sight of the man before her. His ocean blue eyes were intoxicating, or maybe that was all of the Amaretto. The more she stared at him, the more she struggled for the right words to speak. He was beautiful, like something from a dream.

“Can I get you another drink?” He asked her.

It was then that it dawned on her. Her eyes grew wide as she looked around the room. The deep blue paint that covered the walls of the house was no longer a dark gray or black. The Christmas tree in the corner was wrapped in white lights and silver tinsel with the most beautiful silver and gold ornaments. The mantel above the fireplace was covered in pine, adding to the strong smell that surrounded the house.

Her friends that filled the room were dressed to the nines, all to welcome in the new year. She thought they looked nice before, but now with her vision fully intact, she believed they all belonged in a store window for everyone to see. Everything about the house, which belonged to her closest of friends, seemed far more beautiful than it had before.

“Miss?” His voice pulled her from her blissful state.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I--” Before she could finish her statement, he did.

“Can see in color?” He chuckled, which sounded like heaven to Jordyn.

“Yeah.” Jordyn smiled, her cheeks slowly growing the brightest shade of pink.

“I have been looking for you my entire life.” He spoke softly as he took a few short steps closer to Jordyn. With her brown hair halfway in her face, he found it hard to really take in the sight of her, now that she had stopped dancing. He lifted his left hand to her face, brushing a few loose hairs behind her ear. His right hand reached her cheek, resting gently there as his blue eyes bore into her own.

“Over thirty years I’ve gone without you. I was beginning to think I’d never see in color. It’s exhausting, waiting for something that has already come for so many people surrounding you. I bet we were the only ones here who were still stuck in the dark times.” His Irish accent was thick, but it was not hard to follow.

“I know the feeling. All of my friends. They’re either married with children or they’ve had their vision for what feels like forever after you’ve been waiting so long to know just how green the grass is or how bright the orange in the sky is on a hot summer night. Your friends can do their best to explain how things look, but it will never be the same until you actually see it.”

“I’m Rian.” He took her right hand in his and brought it to his lips. He kissed the back of her hand gently, keeping her hand in his.

“Jordyn.” The blush in the brunette’s cheeks only grew worse, if it were possible.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Soulmate.” He brought his left arm around her waist, beginning to sway to the music coming from the speakers.

Jordyn did not say a word. She inched closer to him, wrapping her left arm around his neck and her right arm around his back while resting her head gently over his chest.

It was ten minutes until midnight and Jordyn and Rian had spent the last twenty minutes swaying to the music as they spoke about a variety of things. They talked about their jobs and their hopes for the future. Jordyn was a nurse, who worked at a local hospital doing the overnight shift most days. Rian was an athlete. He traveled all over the world doing what he loved. His career was his passion and his first love. The way he spoke about his career gave Jordyn butterflies. His smile was so genuine and the excitement he felt was evident as he spoke. This was something that Jordyn knew she would love about him.

“Jordyn, can you see in color?” The voice of Jordyn’s friend Annie pulled the two from their conversation.

“Yeah.” The woman turned to her friend with a smile on her face.

“Finally!” She cheered, which caused many others to turn their attention to the loud blonde. “Hey, everyone! Jordyn finally has her full vision!”

The crowd of people began to cheer for the young woman. After being on the Earth for twenty-four years, she had finally gained the vision everyone spoke highly of. Having your full vision meant you found your soulmate. One would think this was the easiest way to find your happiness, but when you spend years searching for someone who literally brought color to your world, it was a mission of sorts.

Everyone gathered around the television as the famous New Year’s Rockin’ Eve was beginning the countdown to the new year. The ball was slowly moving as the group of people began counting down. As the countdown ended, everyone cheered.

“Happy New Year!” Jordyn yelled with the crowd of her friends and acquaintances.

“Jordyn.” Rian whispered into her ear as he stood behind her. She turned her head and was met with the most electrifying new year’s kiss.

It was twelve thirty and the party was still in full swing.

“I hate to cut the night short, but I’ve got a flight to catch. I’ll call you as soon as I land and we can plan that trip out to see me that we were talking about.” Rian poked Jordyn on the nose, causing her to chuckle.

“Alright.”

“I promise, we’ll make this work.” He looked her in the eye and gave her one last kiss before leaving the party.

That was a year ago. Since then, Jordyn and Rian had seen each other a few times out of the year. They had spent their birthdays together and when Jordyn had two weeks off of work, she joined Rian on the road, enjoying the tourist life. The two had grown closer over FaceTime calls and non-stop text messages. Sure, they fought about the distance, but like Rian promised, they made it work. The two refused to label their relationship until they could spend more time together in person, which was something no one really understood.

Jordyn sat on the couch in the familiar home of her friend Annie. Her friends surrounded her as they surrounded the television for their annual countdown. She stood from the couch as everyone gathered around. The gentle tap on her shoulder caused her to turn around, coming face to face with Rian, who had just arrived seconds before.

“Jordyn, in just one year and maybe a handful of visits, you’ve brought so much joy to my life. This year has been the hardest year of my life. Being away from you has been the most painful struggle I have been faced with and I don’t think I can do it any longer. You’ve accepted my career and I couldn’t ask for a better person to have by my side. I know we decided not to label anything, but I cannot wait any longer.” Rian spoke as he took his hands in hers. Slowly he kneeled down onto one knee. “Jordyn, I would love nothing more than for you to be my wife. Will you please, complete my life and marry me?”

Without a word, Jordyn nodded her head. Rian stood up, just as the crowd of people began to welcome the new year. While the people gathered around Jordyn and the television cheered and kissed their loved one, Rian slipped the ring onto Jordyn’s finger and the two kissed, welcoming the new year and the new stage in their relationship.


About the Author


Kendra Shufelt is a novelist and screenwriter. She writes stories in the Sci-Fi and Romance genres and is earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing through Full Sail University. She can be reached at Kendra.shufelt@gmail.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/kendra-shufelt-27578b152/.


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