The stairs creaked as I slipped down them in the dark, my suitcase in hand.
I knew I would be accused of cowardice sneaking away in the middle of the night. But I didn't see it that way. If I were cowardly, I wouldn't be leaving. I'd be staying here and doing what was expected of me. Doing the right things to make the right people happy. Slipping away just meant avoiding the drama of leaving. The caterwauling, the accusations, the blame. A whole lot of fuss that never changed anything, but just caused hurt.
I would call.
This house held too many memories with its pictures over the mantel and its furniture that never changed. The living room we lived in and the parlor we weren't allowed to use. The recliner he always sat in, and her rocking chair across the coffee table. It was the only furniture in the living room. There never had been room for me here.
I closed the door behind me and moved down the driveway in the dark until I came to Daniel's car. I threw my suitcase in the backseat and then climbed in the passenger side. He just sat there, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
"You sure about this, Jess?" he finally asked. "There might not be a coming back. I can't promise we'll come back safe."
I stared out the window at the house, quiet and alone in the night. "I'm sure. I would drown here. We would drown here." I smiled softly at my brother and laid a hand on his arm so he'd look at me. "I'm not afraid. Drive."
That was the last I saw of my home.