After 3 years of writing in the Big Yellow House, I'm really venturing into fiction...and the unknown. I've written 2 parts of a story and I'm not sure where it's going. It's exciting, and intimidating...but I'm safe in that room and so, I write. This is FUN!
She glanced one last time in the rearview mirror, taking a mental photograph of the white lighthouse as it disappeared from view. She heard a whine from the backseat.
"It's OK, Sadie. It's OK."
She turned up the radio and Bruce Springsteen's voice mingled with the sea air. "It's going to be OK," she repeated.
She drove down the main street of town, not daring to look out the window for fear she'd catch someone's eye, and slid into the left lane to turn for the highway, but changed her mind and jerked the car to the right, toward the water.
Hopping out of the car, she grabbed her camera bag from the backseat. She wanted to take Sadie with her, but she know that her canine companion would want to play in the surf. That was not an option. Pulling her Yankee cap down further over her eyes, she jogged to the boardwalk and snapped a few photos of the rickety, weathered wood, the boardwalk ice cream shop, the turned down lifeguard chairs lying in the sand, and the waves. Her legs ached to dip into the water, but she knew she couldn't. After turning for a last long shot of the lighthouse, blurry through her tears, she ran back to the car, wiping her eyes, and pulled out onto the street. She pointing her jeep towards the highway, closed the windows and flipped on the AC--she didn't want to smell the salt and sand anymore.
* * * * * * * *
PART 2 (You should know that our prompt/challenge was to use these 5 objects in our story: stringless guitar, pizza cutter, duffel bag, Bible, bonzai tree.)
By the time she hit the Jersey Turnpike, the Bruce Springsteen CD had played through. She reached into the pile of CDs next to her and grabbed one, trading it for Bruce without even looking. The unmistakable low strings of Crooked Still filled the car--this would work. Her phone buzzed in the cupholder beside her. She ignored it and kept driving. Ten minutes later, it rang again. She ignored it and turned up the music.
As she approached the Delaware Memorial Bridge, she realized she hadn't eaten since lunchtime yesterday. She pulled off the highway into the Clara Barton Rest Stop. Opening the trunk, she pushed aside her sad, stringless guitar. A year and a half ago, just a few weeks after bringing Sadie home, she'd been upstairs when she hear the horrible crash of her guitar hitting the floor, strings vibrating painfully. The sound itself scared Sadie away before she could do any permanent damage. She'd found the puppy backed int a corner, growling at the fallen guitar with 4 snapped strings. Though she'd never gotten around to restringing it, she'd tossed it in the car at the last minute--maybe she'd string it on this trip. She pulled Sadie's red leash out of one of the duffel bags jammed in the trunk.
"C'mon, girl," she said. She let Sadie stretch her legs for a few minuts before leading her back to the car. "I'll be right back, " she said, rubbing the dog behind her golden ears and checking the travel bowl to make sure there was still water inside before shutting the door and jogging inside.
About half an hour into the drive, she'd realized she was squinting--and that her sunglasses were back on the kitchen table. Just inside the doors, under a sign that read "Clara Barton Rest Stop. Welcome to the Garden State," was a cart covered in sunglasses. She plucked a pair of plastic $18 shades and set them down next to the register, in front of a tiny bonzai tree, handing the man a $20.
She turned and looked around the entryway at her options and settled on pizza. There was a bit of a line and she found herself staring blankly at the teenaged boy rolling the pizza cutter methodically over one pizza, then another and another.
"Ex-cuse me, ma'am." She looked up at the teenage girl rolling her eyes, "Can I help you?"
"Two cheese slices to go, a water and an iced tea, please"
She opened her wallet to hand the cashier money and realizing she only had 2 singles, pulled out her ATM card instead. The cashier smiled at her from behind big, round glasses and looked quickly at her card. "Thank you, C-Carries?"
She smiled. "It's Karis. Thanks," and took back her card.
"Karis? What is that?"
"It's Greek. Have a good one."
She walked back to the car shaking her head. Her father had wanted to name her Grace, but that was too plain and ordinary for her mother. They had settled on Karis, which meant grace in Greek, thereby honoring her father's idea and her mother's heritage. They thought it was perfect, but they didn't have to go through life spelling and pronouncing it for everyone.
When she got back to the car, she set her pizza on the passenger seat and stuck the drinks in the cupholders. She moved the cellphone, noting that she now had 4 missed calls, all from the same number. She tore off a piece of pizza crust and gave it to Sadie. It was the least she could do--the poor dog hated car rides.
An hour later, as she approached Baltimore, the phone rang again. Looking at the number, she flipped it open, taking a deep breath.
"Hi? Karis, I've been calling for hours. What the f - "
"I can't. Annie, I'm sorry, but I can't right now."
"Are you OK?"
"Please, An, I'll call you when I get there. Maybe I'll be able to explain. Please?"
"Alright. Be careful. Keep your phone charged. Lock your doors. Pull off if you get tired. ... I love you."
"Promise. I love you too."
She closed the phone and threw it on the floor of the backseat. It was time to switch CDs again.
She drove all night, with Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beatles and Carole King as her soundtrack. She stopped every few hours to let Sadie out and grab a drink or a snack. In Tennessee, she'd been accosted by a Bible salesman, reminding her that she was a sinner.
"Jesus saves!" he cried.
Sadie growled. The man followed Karis to her car, quoting from Scripture. Finally, she turned to face him.
"I'm Catholic," she said.
He stopped in his tracks. "Oh."