When she crossed what she thought of as the invisible line, she let out a sigh of relief, though the uneasiness stayed with her the rest of the way down the street. The release of tension when she reached the intersection that led to her street was like someone had been pressing a finger into the small of her back, and then suddenly it was gone.
It was simply amazing what a difference a small threshold could make. One street put the fear of the unknown coursing through your nervous system, while the next washes it all away with calm reassurance.
The street she lived on with her Gran wasn’t the nicest in the city, wasn’t even the nicest in Dolesham by a long shot, but she felt like she’d crossed into paradise just by crossing that invisible line. The rain continued to pour down, dampening her clothes, but it had stopped dampening her spirits.
Jo lived in a tiny two-storey, two bedroom house with a narrow, creaky staircase. She’d bought it with the small amount her parents had left her after they passed. It was a nice enough place; sure, there was no front yard, and the back was maybe a little bigger than your average tablet computer, but it was hers as long as she could keep paying for it.
She set aside the momentary thoughts of keeping up the payments as she took the steps up to the front door and let herself in, shaking the umbrella clear of rain. “Gran?” she called, locking the door securely behind her with a click of the key fob. “Gran, I’m back! I’ll get dinner on. You must be getting hungry by now; sorry I took so long!”
“It’s about time,” her Gran’s grumpy voice called from upstairs. “It’s supposed to rain soon. This is no time of year for young women to be out in the rain, you hear me?”
“It’s already raining, Gran, has been for a while,” she said with a sigh as she hung up her soaked jacket and kicked her runners into the closet. She stepped in a puddle and grimaced.
“’Course it is,” he called back. “It’s supposed to rain soon.”
“I’ll have dinner ready in a while, Gran,” she replied with a half smile. He at least sounded like he knew who she was, or at the very least he remembered that he didn’t live alone. That was something.
She stepped into the kitchen and the overhead lights flicked on at her presence. She opened the tin of soup and prepared it for heating on the stove top, then put the rest of her haul away.