This story is one of the April Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
He was already wheezing but he knew he had to keep going; he just had to keep on running. The road seemed to stretch for miles, just endless tarmac, his feet finding a rhythm but his heart not yet supplying the same. Tony was scared. ‘I don’t want it to end like this!’ he thought to himself. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him, singing to himself, counting, anything to set a pace he could maintain. They were out to get him, he knew this now – there was no more denying it – it was time; his time. But not in the way he had thought.
He thought he had longer. He thought he would achieve more. He felt so young, so full of life, so full of opportunity. He’d left Maggie behind, left her reading in her room, waiting on him. He had peeped through her window, bidding her a silent farewell; he saluted to her bent head and turned to leave again. He could wait. She could wait. Her parents were never going to let him be with her. He had played by the rules for years. He had been threatened before, but he’d ignored it.
He knew Maggie loved him, even if the others couldn’t see. He knew it. He had felt it from the first time she had laid eyes upon him in the corridor at school and had smiled. He knew that smile had been for him. Just for him. Time had stood still, his heart thumping in his ears. He was told he stood no chance; this just made him want her more.
So many nights he had spent sneaking up to her window. Her brother, Jake, had found him once, and that had resulted in a black eye and a split lip, but it did not put him off. She was worth it. This time Jake was with someone when they had found him at the window. He’d managed to jump into the hedgerows and get a head start on their car. Maggie would be sitting in her room now, oblivious, just reading, maybe thinking of him. Tony liked to think of her thinking of him, dreaming the same things that he did. He knew she loved him, he just knew it.
He could hear the truck revving up behind him. He could see the headlights lighting up the way in front of him, and he pushed ahead, harder, faster. It was no good. The truck screeched to a halt in front of him. Jake flung the door open, his fist making contact with Tony’s jaw, hard. He hit the tarmac. The lights went out.
Tony awoke to find himself in the truck being driven back into town. Inside the police station the whole Macey family was waiting for him, including his beloved Maggie. He tried to lunge for her and hit the floor. He felt the cuffs going around his wrists. He was vaguely aware of being read his rights, but his voice crying out for Maggie drowned it out. She was crying. She seemed afraid. Why would she be scared of him? She loved him.
“I love you, Maggie.” He kept hearing the words getting louder and louder, then he realised it was him.
“Tony Riley, you are being arrested under the grounds of harassment and intimidation and the stalking of Miss Maggie Macey…” The words drowned out. They were so wrong. How could they be so wrong? He knew she loved him. She just needed time….
Why did she look so scared? Why was she telling him to leave her alone? He looked at her, the love turning to hatred like the flick of a switch. “Well, I guess this is goodbye,” he said to her, his voice like ice as he was led away to his police cell.