-- Chapter from The Judge -- Prologue Chapter from The Judge -- Prologue
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  Prologue from
The Judge

By Libby Lazewnik 


It was night, and she was running.

It had rained earlier in the evening, and now a fine mist draped a shimmering curtain in the air. Dim shapes along either side of the street were ghostly suggestions of houses. The trees were vague outlines that appeared briefly through the fog as she sprinted past, and then receded again. It was a rather beautiful scene, if also an eerie one, but the young woman saw neither the beauty nor the mystery because of the film of tears that filled her eyes.

There, on the quiet Baltimore street at one o'clock in the morning, her heart was in the painful process of breaking in half.

The furious, glorious moment when she had flung her ring into the face of the man responsible for the heartbreak was past but blessed numbness had not yet arrived to ease her pain. Sobs bubbled up from deep inside, to emerge in tiny gasping cries that kept time with the tap of her high heels as she ran down the block in search of her car.

Her shoes were frivolous rather than sturdy. They were meant for a leisurely evening spent in the company of the man she was going to marry, not a mad sprint through the darkness of a strange street in an unfamiliar town. Her ankles ached. Tiny droplets settled on her shoulders and sparkled like glitter in her hair. Blinking away the tears from her eyes, she narrowed them against the fog. Where was the car, to take her far away from the scene of her humiliation? Distance had no meaning in this opaque world. Had she parked it in front of this house? Or was it that one? She could not remember.

Dimly, she registered a sound: a second pair of running feet.

It was impossible to tell which direction the sound came from. In any case, there was no time to figure it out. Out of a driveway, into the pool of yellow light from a street lamp, hurtled a figure full-tilt, and she just missed cannoning into it.

Her breath left her in a gasp. The fog parted momentarily to give her a glimpse of a young man's face beneath a baseball cap. The face could have been called handsome, had it not been so surly and had it not been disfigured by a long, white scar that ran from the corner of one eye nearly down to his mouth.

“S-sorry,” she stammered, breathless. The man stared at her for one wild instant, as though doubting the reality of her presence at this hour, in these surroundings. Then, ferociously, he shouldered past her and was gone, swallowed in the fog.

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