Tess pulled her hair up, exposing the solar system adorning her neck. It was her favorite tattoo and fitting for her as it reflected the origin of her hippy parent’s given name, Planetes. The greek for planets, meaning wanderer. The word had described her parents perfectly. She wasn’t so sure that it fit her.
A mix of dirt and small gravel rock crunched a rhythm beneath her feet as she ran down the two lane road and past a newly sprouted corn field, before turning down a dusty dirt path strewn with brown pine needles. A mile in, she found her stride and her breathing matched up as she watched the evening sun sink into the forest before her. Not everything in Pleasantville was perfect, but this was. This was her sanctuary. The peace of an evening trail run. Now she wondered if that had changed. Had she lost that peace?
There had always been opportunities to leave. The Cross Country scholarship at the State School had been the most tempting, but Tess had declined, opting to stay home to help with her mom. There were still opportunities to leave. There would always be opportunities for a strong willed girl like Tess, and now that she had nothing to tie her here, she considered exploring those options.
What had set her out running today was less of on opportunity and more of a reason to leave however. The things she had seen last night, impossible things, had set her mind ablaze and running was all she could do.
Her mind worked best while running, always figuring ways around problems or just solving them outright as the miles fell by the way. She wasn’t sure why it worked, just that it always had. She wasn’t sure that this was a problem that a good run could solve though.
The cops had been no help, and she felt the fool for even calling them. She must have looked the idiot talking about spaceships and aliens. The last thing she needed was the reputation that her parents had had. She loved them, but that didn’t make them any less of a laughing stock in the small town.
Maybe that’s why they moved around so much, but why settle here? Why Pleasantville? Why here in this small, little, not even a town, really? Had they been hiding, keeping her from them. That of course was nonsense, just a girl trying to make sense of her parent’s sometimes overly paranoid actions. Any daughter would do that though.
Paranoid, even weird parents didn’t explain last night though. And it had come for her. The more she thought about it, the more she was sure of that one fact. But what was it? Where had it come from, and why her?
The only thing that she knew, or thought that she knew, was that last night’s events did explain her parents to some extent. What if there had been aliens. What if the dementia was brought on by something other than teenage drug use.
Ten miles later, hands on knees, gulping down the humid summer air, Tess hadn’t figured everything out. There were, unfortunately, lots of what ifs, but in among them, Tess found one certainty. She had to stay. At least for a time. She had to know if her parents were right or just crazy. She just wasn’t sure which of those outcomes she would prefer.
I hope that you have found something to like in this short story and that if you did, you will pass it on. Thanks for stopping by!