Cryptic reference to what follows At 3:00 a.m. on Friday morning, during the most difficult week of her life, Charlotte decided to go running. Charlotte had never run before. She had run from things and run to things but she never felt the need to go just for the sake of going, to suit up in a cute little outfit like the rest of the neighborhood wonder women, perky tits straining through their t-shirts as they run around and around the block and around again just so they could come home and eat their way through a box of pop-tarts while they flipped the channels. So here she was at 3am, out the door and down the steps. She needed to move. To go. Not to lose weight, not to keep trim, but to keep herself from screaming. It was cold and drizzling. The streets and sidewalks were slick with wet leaves that looked like spun gold under the amber streetlights. A smashed pumpkin mingled with the leaves, its guts strewn about the street. Charlotte gave a small, sympathetic nod to the dead pumpkin and started to run. She was still in her boots, brown Doc Martens that she bought on sale at the flea market just last week, when her life wasnít so dramatic. The boots made an echoing stomp in the night as she pounded the sidewalk. With each stomp, Charlotte breathed out a ragged fuck you to every part of the past week. The questions, the lack of answers, the hovering sense of failure and the guilty sense of freedom. She ran faster, faster than she knew she was capable of. Her boots banged louder and harder and with each step she screamed to herself the words she had been thinking for four days but never uttered. Iím free. Bang. Iím free. Bang. Iím free. She reached the block and then Charlotte stopped short, swayed on her feet for a few seconds, and puked all over her boots. ----
Alternately: They never came back. He waited on the board for an hour, sunning himself and dipping his feet into the shallow water. The far side of the lake was far, indeed. He could make out some of the homes that were nestled in the hills, he could vaguely see where the lake ended, he could even - if he strained his eyes enough - spot the occasional gull or crow diving down for a quick dip. But he could see no kids, no heads, not a single human. He worried enough to get off the board and put his shoes on, aiming to trudge up the hill to the house, tell the grownups, and have someone drive around to the other side of the lake where they would all search for the boys and eventually find them running around in the open field, their faces dirty with blueberry stains, their feet filthy with dusty dirt.