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The drive home, usual refuge of blissful unwind, instead consumed her whole.  Happy memories lay dehydrated and shrivelled, kindling for combusting irrationality.  She self-immolated through intentional immersion, incapable of avoiding replay of the reason her world altered.

Their relationship construct felt rock-solid and unshakeable, a braiding of two built to last.  They promised lots and even sacrificed a little when choosing the locale of their home.  Three years of full-throttle burn for each other shaped their routine interactions by day and their unbridled explorations in the shadows of night.

Aerin worked hard to build her trust.  She sawed through walls of personal reticence, built during a childhood time of family dysfunction and volatility.  Trust came hard, but she understood the value of openness, and she succeeded.  The reward, an ever-present joie de vivre she relished, filled her from first awakening through tasks undertook with élan and verve.

Highway traffic, light on most days, bunched into a slowing pod, each driver reacting to flashing strobes piercing the dark of a winter evening.  Twenty miles an hour lopped off with the impatient tap of her brake, reacting to the brightening red taillights of the cars ahead.

She turned on the radio and tuned to NPR, swapped it for a CD, and disdaining the mismatch of music with mood, slam-shut the radio down.  Aerin fought rage and she wished a good cry.  Her palm slammed hard against the steering wheel, setting bees loose in her hand.

Home, where she found Karen in their bed with some unknown dude, felt soiled and her entering masochistic, as if she wished pain upon herself.

Her mobile lit in sequential flashing, its signal competing with the brilliant coloured pulses outside.  A two-word text read, ‘lets talk’.

She threw the insolent phone at the passenger side floor, hard.

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