Short Story: Carte Blanche

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Smoke from the taxi wafted around her in an unpleasant shroud of gray. She swatted the air with her newspaper, irritated, and wobbled unsteadily up the ramp and into the park. She really should have changed her shoes, she reflected. Five hundred dollar stilettos didn't quite belong in in this almost-jungle. Also, how was she supposed to traverse those treacherous little paths in such high heels? She winced as the straps bit into her already numb feet. Maybe even coming here was a mistake. Still, she continued on, each step closer forcing her to remember the little pieces of herself she’d dropped, never looking back to see where they’d fallen. The only thing that kept her going was her stubborn belief in keeping promises and the fear of the inevitable ‘What if?’ that would haunt her if she turned back now. And then she turned the last corner, and the tree was there. The trunk was a bit thicker than she remembered, and it showed obvious signs of being exposed to the elements, yet the sense of familiarity exuding from it swept into her in an overwhelming wave, the same as it always had. But what she noticed most was that no one was standing under the tree. She waited for relief; the only thing that came was the confusing darkness of disappointment. “Didn’t think you’d come.” A flame of life instantly blazed in her at the sound of the words. She couldn’t speak as she surveyed the scene. It was strange; he’d changed as little as the tree and it suddenly felt as if she’d
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