Preservation

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"Push yourself. One more mile to go," Sasha huffed between breaths.

Mary nodded, face covered in sweat, heart racing.

The two women were jogging at a steady pace past rows and rows of cookie-cutter houses. It was a beautiful spring day, people out on their front lawns all over the neighborhood, kids riding their bikes in the streets or playing basketball in their driveways. And Mary thought—not for the first time—how lucky she was to have moved to such a nice, safe place. Mrs. Jensen waved at the women from her porch, where she was watering a hanging basket of bright purple and yellow flowers. Mary waved back, still keeping her pace, as she turned and followed Sasha around a street corner, running ever closer to home.

Sasha lived right across the street from Mary, and they had made fast friends. Mary had wanted to be friends with Sasha the moment she had first moved in. Sasha was the hot, gossip-girl friend every woman should have. She was the girl who knew all the neighborhood dirt, all the hip people in town, and all the eligible bachelors, even though she was "happily married." Now the women went jogging every Sunday and had a ladies-only, wine and Netflix night at least once a month. Sasha was a recent graduate—which the two had in common—and a newlywed mother of one—which they did not.

Mary had moved to Greenwich for a fresh start. Things had just been too chaotic for her in the city, too hectic. She wanted a change of pace, a change of scenery, a new beginning. A place to grow. So she'd quit her job, ditched her city friends, told her boyfriend they could "stay friends," and left.

Sasha began to slow as they reached her house, a large, new, stone-face craftsman home, which her husband had recently had renovated. She turned back to Mary and grinned her Colgate-white grin, stretching her arms over her head.

She said, "Good run!" as she reached down to her toes to stretch her tanned legs, copper-dyed hair cascading down from her high ponytail. She hung her torso upside-down, wiggling her fingertips as she tried to touch her toes.

Mary nodded, reaching down to stretch as well. Her legs were tight from the jog. She breathed into the stretch, reaching further, loosening her muscles.

After a moment she stood back up to see Sasha grab her water bottle from beside her mailbox and take a long drink.

Once she was finished gulping water, she let out a loud sigh and flashed that signature smile at Mary again, "So... any plans for tonight?" she said slowly, eyeing her from under thick, false eyelashes.

Mary shook her head, "No. Just staying in. Why? I thought you and David had a sitter tonight?"

Sasha laughed and brushed the thought away with her hand, "No, no!" she put her hands on her hip, "I just wondered if you might see Colin again," she raised her eyebrows with a mischievous grin.

Mary rolled her eyes, "Sasha."

"Come on! I have to live vicariously through you," she laughed again, "What's going on? I thought you were really into this one."

"I'm just not ready for anything serious. You know nothing's exclusive for me right now. Colin knows that too," Mary shrugged, stretching her arms behind her back, "I guess I just don't want to be tied down."

"Colin could tie me down any day," she winked.

Mary shook her head, grinning. It was a false grin. Things were not going well with Colin, and the truth was, she actually did really like him. His family was relentless, though, and that was a problem. She had never handled family very well. Her own family had been dysfunctional, and as soon as she had turned eighteen she had left them, and that Podunk trailer park, behind.

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