Updated: Mar 13
It had come to this…
Prudence Catherty ambled sluggishly up her concrete porch steps. Her white sneakered feet dragging on each platform with an audible scrape that was drowned out by the sound of ever-present construction from across the street. Her shoulders slumped and her arms hung listlessly by her sides, as if she had been devolving back into an ape by means of sheer exhaustion.
It was 8:15 in the morning. Prue had just finished clocking another twelve, long, treacherous hours at St. Luke’s hospital, and she was indeed tired. Tired of life. Tired of car crashes, cancer, and ambulance sirens. Tired of drunks, addicts and assholes. But mostly…Prudence Catherty was just tired.
It had been her third overnight shift in a row, with three more left on the schedule. This was not uncommon. In fact, she was used to these oppressive hours. Prudence was, after all, a vet in the nursing industry. Her overarching problem happened to be that her once neat little world was spiraling wildly out of control, and with it – her questionable sanity.
Prue could barely formulate a simple thought as she clumsily fished her keys from her scrub pockets and worked the lock to open her front door. Fortunately for her, thinking was not necessary at this point. Not really. She had been given a purpose. A plan that had already been set in motion. Everything from here on out was pure instinct. The knowledge charged her enough to get through the door without completely collapsing.
The construction crew across the street from her house continued to make their hellacious noises that echoed through the walls and rattled the windows of her quaint, one-story, suburban home - just as they had for the last two months. She needed to sleep. It was one crucial thing that had been taken from her since Jack Hanley and his cronies arrived on the scene in the early days of April. She would get that sleep soon, but not yet.
Prudence closed the door behind her. Her head and body ached mightily, despite the chemicals coursing through her system. She shuffled haphazardly out of the front hall and into her kitchen. It was already so hot in the house that she absently began stripping off her clothes, down to her underwear. She frowned at the way her belly protruded over the top of her underwear bottoms.
Prudence knew she had taken for granted the youthful way her body used to keep fat off with minimal effort. Thirty-nine had a way of slowing things down, especially metabolism. She broke free from the thought digression with a shake of her head and got back to business. She would dress when her tasks were complete, but for now - it was just too hot.
Even the local news proclaimed the temperatures to be record setting for the city of Clearwater, New Hampshire with 92% humidity - the most brutal part of the heatwave. But Prudence wasn’t thinking about the heat or the humidity anymore. Her pungent and sticky skin dripped with sweat as she opened the cloth bags that littered the kitchen counter from yesterday’s grocery run. She had work to do. Important work. She began unpacking the bags.