Home > Dancing with the Devil

Dancing with the Devil
Author: Alison Post

Chapter 1



As I was driving into North Hills, Montana for the first time in five years, I couldn’t help but realize how much of my childhood I’d taken for granted. I could remember how frustrating it got to live in a small town where everyone seemed to know everyone; the predictability killed me. Everyone knew what everyone else was doing, because they all did the same thing every day.

After everything I’d been through in the years since leaving this town, for what was supposed to be the adventure of my life, I would give anything for this kind of predictability again.

While driving through my hometown, passing the town clinic where I’d spent a lot of my childhood in my father’s office, my phone began to ring through my car’s Bluetooth speaker. All it took was just a quick glance at the screen for me to close my eyes in defeat.

Since I left my house—my old house, he had called me every ten minutes. I’d been driving around shamefully, too afraid to turn toward my hometown. Just a little earlier, I’d taken a deep breath and made the turn, knowing in my gut that I needed to be here. I hadn’t felt like I could answer his call before, but now... there was something about being surrounded by the childhood environment that gave me the strength to hit the “accept” button on my steering wheel.

“Hello?” My shaky voice answered.

“’Bout damn time you answered,” Jon’s rough voice responded. “Care to explain why I came home from work today and found your rings on the kitchen table with this poor excuse of a note?”

I had to swallow past my unease; he couldn’t touch me here. We were miles apart.

“I said everything that needed to be said in that note.” I stood over that piece of paper ever since I had woken up that morning; it took me two hours to put my feelings into words that he would hopefully understand. Of course, he would just brush those off.

“I think you’ve forgotten who really controls this marriage.” I could picture him speaking through his teeth as his anger threatened to take over. “You don’t leave me. If you think you can just run away like a little baby, then think again because I will find you.”

I could feel tears pricking my eyes as I slowly drove through the safe streets of my childhood. “Jon, please just let me go.”

“That will never happen, but if you need space to get over your little tantrum, then be my guest.” The car was silent as I waited with bated breath for him to continue, “But, if you’re not back in exactly one month, I’m coming to find you and I know you don’t want that,” he threatened slowly.

My hands were shaking against the steering wheel. I had to take a deep breath and focus on the road in front of me instead of the man on the other end of the phone call.

There was nothing else I could say to him to make him see I would not be back in a month.

“Goodbye, Jon.”

“Beth—” My fingers were on the red button, cutting off whatever he was going to say next before he could utter more than my name.

I had to admit, that conversation went a lot better than I thought. It surprised me he had actually given me a month, but I knew that wouldn’t stop him from calling me to show that he was still in control.

And there was no doubt in my mind that he could find me before this month was up.

It killed me to say, but he was an amazing reporter. It wouldn’t take much for him to realize where I was and even less time for him to come get me. I had to figure out a way to get him out of my life for good, but while I was busy thinking about that, my family and close friends could surround me. Even if he found me, there was no way that he could touch me here.



AS I FOCUSED ON MY surroundings, it didn’t surprise me how little the town had changed in the time I’d been gone. There were a few new shops on Main Street, but otherwise, everything was exactly the same.

The police station still sat directly next to the fire station. The elementary school where I’d shared hundreds of memories, most with my closest friend Mackenna, was just around the corner. The town’s park that I’d gone to, at least a thousand times or more, still had the wooden castle that Mackenna and I practically lived in every summer.

As I continued to drive down the streets that I could still navigate in my sleep, I felt all the tension leaking out of my shoulders. By the time I was pulling up to my parents’ house, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in six years—since Jon came into my life.

“Here goes nothing,” I whispered.

Throughout our relationship, Jon slowly forced me to cut my parents out of my life. It broke my heart knowing that I hadn’t talked to them in almost a year. I vowed to myself to never let someone else dictate who I spoke to again.

Since it was a little after five, I knew that both of my parents would have just gotten home from their respective jobs—my mother was the postmaster general at the post office and my father was one of the town’s doctors.

As I was walking up the familiar pathway to the front door, my eyes took in the house that I’d lived in for eighteen years.

It was a beautiful split-level house painted the same color gray since my parents had purchased it almost 30 years before. I paused after walking up the three steps that led to the front door.

I had never felt such uncertainty before stepping into my childhood home before. Did I knock or just walk in?

Part of me wished I had called them to let them know I was coming home, but I was too worried that I would chicken out and stay with Jon. I didn’t want to get their hopes up just to dash them.

I rapped my knuckles against the white door, holding my breath for the few seconds it took to hear movement behind it.

When I saw my mom on the other side of the entryway, I felt like someone had knocked my breath out of my chest.

Five years without seeing her and it was almost like no time had passed while at the same time, I could see the changes that painted her face. The changes that I hadn’t been around to see.

I had been told so often, growing up, that I was the spitting image of my mother. Our hair was the same soft auburn, our eyes the same chocolate brown, and we stood at the same 5’2”. It’s as if I was looking at my future self.

“Lizzie?” my mom breathed, almost like she thought she was seeing a ghost.

Hearing my childhood nickname brought tears to my eyes. Jon had insisted on calling me “Beth”; I don’t think anyone had called me “Lizzie” since the last time I’d talked to my parents.

“Hi, Mom,” I whispered.

“Oh, my God, Lizzie,” she repeated. She didn’t waste another second before throwing her arms around my neck, holding me close as we both cried onto each other’s shoulders.

“Jo, honey, who’s at the door?” I could hear my father ask from the kitchen.

My mother sniffled, wiping her nose on the back of her sleeve before calling out for my father. “Ted, come here!” She spoke at a normal volume as she turned her attention back to me. “Come in, come in.”

I didn’t make it more than a few steps inside before I saw my father pause in disbelief at the top of the stairs.

“Lizzie, is that you?”

“It’s me, Dad,” I whispered.

He tripped over his own feet as he ran down the stairs, pulling me into his arms the moment he was in front of me.

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