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The supermarket was freezing. Wagons whizzed by, eager to be filled with favorite snacks and meals. Voices
rang out overhead, telling of today’s coupons and specials. Courteous gestures and words bounced off
customers as they moved about through the aisles. Normality thrived, and there was no need for worry or
concern about harm finding home here. The world was left outside by the curb.
Tracing her mother’s footsteps, Crissa crossed her arms and shivered. Her eyes hardly moved toward those
that she walked by. Laughter from her brother as he was being pushed on the wagon met her ears. There was
no need to worry, no need to be concerned while she was in here, but outside, he was waiting. And he would
have to be dealt with.
“Crissa?” She looked up at her mother. “Do you want any cereal?” She shook her head. “Okay.” She chose a
box and tossed it into the wagon. “Don’t let it bother you.” She continued moving on. “Don’t let it.”
“Don’t let what?”
“My decision.” Crissa laughed. “My decision. I always seem to make the wrong one.”
“It’s done, over with, and it’s time to let it go. You had your party.”
“And I let him into my life.” Her mother glanced at her. “I should have gone to the play instead with my real
friends. Maybe then they would talk to me more, but instead, I invited a bunch of strangers to my sweet
“Classmates not strangers.”
“They may as well be strangers, mom.” Crissa walked down another aisle as people passed by. “They hardly
bother with me now as it is.”
“What about the guy that was hanging around afterward? The one that you went to the mall with later on?”
“Him. She saw the look on his face when she invited everyone else in the class to her party, so that was why
she really invited him. But she had no idea that he was obsessed with her, watched her every movement, and
stole pictures of her taken on class trips, and she let him into her life. And he was there every day now,
watching, and he even started to follow her to all of her classes. And when she finally put her foot down and
told him to back off, he wrote a nasty letter to the football team, signing her name, and now she had to deal
with them in school as well. And he didn’t stop there. Last week, he watched her walk down a flight of stairs
and then dropped a heavy textbook toward her, missing her only by an inch or two. She made a mistake, and
she was paying for it.”
“Crissa?” Her mother was now staring intently at her. “What’s wrong?”
“Do we honestly have to have this conversation here, mom?” Crissa looked around at those that continued to
pass by. “This isn’t the place.”
“I was just trying to have a conversation.” She turned toward her son still sitting in the wagon and reaching for
a box of cookies. “You spend a lot of time in your room now, alone.”
“I like being alone.” Crissa grabbed a box of cookies out of her brother’s hand and dropped it into the wagon.
“It helps me think.”
“It’s not healthy.” She stared at Crissa for a long moment. “You used to talk to me about everything, but that
was a long time ago.”
“Things change.” Crissa walked down another aisle. “I changed.”
“I see that.” Her mother sighed. “You shouldn’t spend so much time in your room alone, though. It’s not
“So’s my life.” She ignored the look that her mother gave her. “I’m not alone.” She tried to smile but failed. “I
do have friends.”
“Then, why are you alone?”
“Because. Because I’m not supposed to have contact with them. I’m supposed to finish school, and then they’ll
arrange for their college, their training. And then I belong to them. Those are my friends, and I can’t tell you
this because you won’t understand.”
“What? What do you want from me?” Crissa didn’t realize that she yelled until she saw everyone was looking
at her. “Can we go?”
“Yeah. We’re done.” Her mother quickly moved down the aisle, embarrassed. “We need to get home soon
anyway.” She hardly looked at Crissa. “You still haven’t done your homework.”
“I know.” Crissa stared down at her feet. “I know.”
Stepping outside, a warm breeze touched Crissa’s face. Sunlight bounced off moving cars. The sound of wagons
being pushed through the parking lot echoed in the air. A gentle touch on her shoulder was her cue to start
following her mother and brother to the car.
A gunshot rang out. Crissa stumbled backward. Pain seared her neck. A hole appeared behind her in the
concrete wall. Another gunshot rang out, and the sound of glass shattering broke the silence around her.
Crissa’s mother had a strong fear of gunshots. When she heard that sound or a car backfire, she would take off.
She quickly placed her son and groceries into the car, pushed the wagon away, and then she jumped in and
started the ignition.
Crissa pulled her attention away from her mother’s car and saw him standing on the road nearby. The gun
was still in his hand. A look of shock spread across his face. She watched him raise the gun and slowly point it
“Hey! Hey you!” A man ran out of the grocery store. “What are you doing!” Crissa turned toward him. “What
are you doing!”
“Crissa!” A voice snapped in her ear. “Crissa, what happened!”
“He’s on the road. He has a gun.” She stared at the man now glaring at her. “He tried to kill me.” She turned to
see him now running up another road. “He’s on the run. I forgot his house was not that far from here.”
“We’re in route now.”
“Let me know when you have him.”
“Crissa, you know the deal.”
“You’re crazy, lady.” The man hurried away from her. “I’m calling the police.”
“Did you hear that?”
“I heard, Crissa, but we can’t kill him.”
“Then, why go after him?”
“To guarantee he leaves you alone after this.”
“That’s bullshit.” She ignored the looks of panic on the faces of those that hurried past her. “He tried to kill
“We can’t bring any attention onto you. Where’s your mother?” Crissa saw her mother’s car approach the exit
ramp to the strip mall. “Try to catch her, but don’t call the police. Don’t tell anyone. We need you off radar.
“Why? Just tell me why.”
“You’re not ready yet, and you know that.” Crissa saw her mother’s car quickly turn off the ramp and head in
her direction. “Crissa?”
“I heard you.” Crissa saw the car drive closer to where she was. “It’s not fair.”
“I know, but let this one get away. Maybe later on, another time, you’ll do what you have to, but now is not
“I know.” The sound in her ear clicked off. “I know.”
“What the hell is wrong with you! Get in the car,” her mother yelled through the open window on the
passenger-side door. “Get in!”
“I’m sorry.” Crissa got in the car, and her mother hit the gas. “It’s over. You can relax.”
“I’m not sticking around to find out.” Her mother quickly returned to the exit ramp and flew past the traffic
light just as it turned red. “I can’t believe that just happened. Who would do something like that?”
“I don’t know.” Crissa touched her neck. “I don’t.” She pulled the mirror down in front of her to look at a red
line on the side of her neck. “Doesn’t matter.” She gingerly touched it as it started to fade. “Does not matter.”
“Well, I’m not going back there. That’s for sure.” She glanced at her son in the backseat. “You okay, honey?”
“Not you. Your brother.” A sound of laughter from the back was her answer. “Now, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, mom.” Crissa touched her neck. “I’m fine.”
The next day slowly came, but she did not see him in the school. In the few classes that they shared, his seat
was empty. She hoped that he was dead, but she knew that they would not kill him. She would see him again,
but would he attempt another try on taking her life? Would they stop him?
Returning home, she picked up the local newspaper resting in the driveway and carried it into the house. She
dropped her belongings on the kitchen table and grabbed a cold drink. Slowly, she unfolded the newspaper to
read a small article about yesterday’s shooting, and the suspect was described to the letter. The suspect was
her, and she knew that she could never go back there now. There was no telling what would happen, and how
could she tell them what really took place? How could she tell them about her?
“Screw it.” Crissa finished her cold drink. “He’ll have to be the one that got away.” She left the kitchen, leaving
the newspaper behind.
REVIEW STORE: Did you enjoy Melissa's short story? Please tell her so. We know she will appreciate your
feedback. CLICK HERE to write a review of "Ride Home IV: Sweet Sixteen".
NEW REVIEWS: “Ride IV . . .” does not disappoint! As I knew it would not. We learn a little more about
Crissa here, those who torment and those who protect in her dreams. The high school protagonist who we
meet later in other works at an older age, the voices who know who she really is, and her mother who seems
to be out in left field. (Pardon the old cliché, Melissa.) I cannot wait to read all of the “Crissa” stories in one
This is a new and vibrant slant on the Crissa stories. Crissa seems to be more in control here . . . able to
influence a positive outcome. But, as is always the case in dreams, much is left unresolved until the next
nightmare. I loved how the dream turned on Crissa in the end, making her the perpetrator rather than the
victim. Very clever writing. We all look forward to more! *****__Su Chang-Wu.
OTHER WORKS: To enjoy other works by Melissa R. Mendelson, CLICK HERE.
| "Ride Home IV: Sweet Sixteen"
By Melissa R. Mendelson
Saturday, May 23, 2016
Rated "PG" by the Author.
The trials of our life define who we are to become.