Ella hated shoes. They hurt. It was also the way she felt about work, and boyfriends, and sex.
Even now in her late twenties, Ella liked going to playgrounds. She was too big for the slide but could soar on the swings, and hand-walk the monkey bars, and not worry about other things. Today, though, she did worry about other things. Things like her mother’s cancer, and her sister’s divorce, and her new boss, who would touch her and look at her the same way he did when she was the receptionist in the marketing department.
At the apex of one swing, staring into the cloudless sky, Ella decided what she should do. After dismounting, she removed her running shoes and socks, left them near the slide, and skipped to her car, arms raised, her body twirling in the breeze.
Ella scampered past her VW Bug into the woods, laughing. She began to sing a melody she’d never heard before, removed her blouse and slacks, then bra and panties as she roamed deeper into the darkness. Ella was free—free to do whatever she wanted.
The roar of the waterfall tickled Ella’s ears, made her laugh again. She ran to the edge of the falls, took several deep breaths, and looked down. A mist covered the pool at the bottom. With giggles circling her head, she leapt toward the foaming water, her arms spread wide, back arched, legs together, toes pointed, just like her diving instructor had taught her. Ella’s mind and body relaxed, she entered the cleansing water.
Three days later a family hiking the valley found Ella’s body draped on a rock.