Jane was standing at the end of Auburn Run, which is where the bus dumps you when you’re done your time…
A story made from the impressions of the picture at this web site.

Jane was standing at the end of Auburn Run, which is where the bus dumps you when you’re done your time.  She was wearing that same old gear from before – jean jacket and knit fuscia scarf, cowboy boots and a white leather purse.  She kinda-smiled when she saw me, probably wondering how I would remember her.  Time does strange things to memories, but I was ready to put all of that behind us.

We pushed her old LTD down the highway and made good time toward the coast.  Neither of us said much during the trip.  I told her she looked good.  She smelled good.  I wondered if it was just the time, but didn't mind when she put her hand on mine.

Keeping her secret was hard.  Nobody asks you to do much in life.  Work.  Mind your business.  Find somebody and settle down.  But when people place trust in you, that's a different thing.  A certain kind of trust can wear thin a man's soul.  She had placed that trust in me, and I had held up my end of the deal.

She made me pull over into a lot about four miles from her new place.  It was about eight, and the sun was low on the water.  We walked past the picnic benches and climbed the rocks to the cliff edge.  I just looked out at the water and remembered.

I had promised to take her away, but she wouldn't have it.  I came to realize that it wasn't just in her mind that she couldn't leave him.  He'd beat her, or worse.  Nonetheless, she was all I dreamed at night.  Her and him.  Finishing him and taking her away.

Prison had turned me cold.  It wasn't just the company but the solitude.  You grow impersonal when you've got nobody with whom you can share your secrets.  With my secret stowed away, I stared at the grey walls and steel bars and waited.  I knew that when I left some of that place would come with me.

She knelt behind me on the rocks and put her hands on my shoulders as I watched the gulls cut ribbons though the air.

"What's going on in your head?" she asked.

Before her, I was an accountant.  I did taxes.  It's how we met, after all.  During a couple of hours on Thursday afternoon at her house assembled her necessary documents.  Over coffee, I saw the look in her eye of someone in need.  It turned out to be more than what I was able to offer her just that afternoon.

"Just looking at the water," I replied.  "It's good to be out."

She hugged her arms around me from behind and squeezed.  A cool breeze blew off the water throwing strands of her hair across my face.  I could taste the salt in the air.  It was so much unlike the past five years.

The one thing I remembered most vividly while I was in prison was the look on his face.  After 3 months of keeping our relationship from him, to finally meet him.  Well, not "meet" in the strictest sense.  His face was slack, eyes bulging.  There was blood on her hands and tears on her face.

There wasn't any thought to it.  I told her to clean up and get out.  I gave her a story.  Everything went fast after that.  I remember nothing but a blur of police lights, guilty pleas, and drafty gray cages.  There was no thought but of her and what I had done.

"Are you ready to get home?" she asked.

What I had done.  "In a minute."  After all that time to do nothing but think about what I had done, what I had not really done, her secret, our secret - it wasn't until just then, looking at the ocean, that I had actually thought through what I had actually done, but to myself. 

I hadn't thought about my life before.  At the time, I didn't think through the consequences or the alternatives.  I just wanted to protect her.  Now what would I do?

"C'mon, hon, let's get going," she prodded gently.

"Back off!"  I didn't yell.  It was an assertive voice that had become useful in prison.  She cowered anyway.

She left me silently and headed for the car.  I sat on the cliff for a while thinking, and waiting for her to pull away.