Short Story by Audra Ohm
Emma drove down this road a million times to get where she wanted to go. Today, she was on her way to take her oldest daughter to ballet class. The day started out just like any other day except that there was a very dense fog surrounding her purple jeep. She pulled the knob out and turned on her headlights so that the other cars would see her. Olivia, her back seat driver, was instructing her on where to go. Emma stayed confident but her hands gripped the steering wheel and her back learned forward as if it would help her see better. Oncoming cars passed as if they appear out of nowhere. As she glance around her she couldn’t see the houses as she passed them. She knew there was a huge subdivision on her right, but it had disappeared in the fog like everything else. If it wasn’t for the roaring engine of their old 1998 jeep, it would have seemed as if they were floating in the clouds. Emma glanced down at the time to see if they were going to make it in time, the clock said 9:45, they had plenty of time to get there. She took it slow. In front of her she saw two tiny red lights, eyes peering at them through the cloud. As they approached she realized it was a car breaking to make a turn, it looked fancy and new, she let out a sigh of relief, happy nothing bad happened. She knew she couldn’t add another bill to the stack that sat on her dining room table. They began to pick up speed again and suddenly the headlights lights flickered and then the whole jeep turned off. She quickly veered over to the side of the road to get out of the way of other cars. Since her jeep was from the 20th century she suspected something like this would happened eventually, but today of all days was not the day! She put the car in park and turned the key backwards to take it out. She tried to start the car but all she heard was silence, she sat there looking down at her hands that were holding the keys and said a short prayer. “Father God, I need this car to start….” thats all she said and as she sat their quietly she heard a voice in her head say, “try it one more time.” She let out a deep sigh as she listened to the baby crying and the five year old asking a billion question, she tried it one more time before making a call for help. The jeep started right up and every light came on. The radio station they were listening to turned to static, she figured it was due to the fog so she quickly hit the scan button to find a more local station. It scanned for some time before landing on an oldie’s station, it made her think of happier times so she pulled her finger away from the button. She glanced up to pull off the side of the road and saw the fog had cleared, confused and relieve at the same time she began driving. The noise coming from her tires startled her and she glanced at the road, her car was now on a gravel road, “maybe I went too far?” she thought. She looked around and she could only see green cornfields for miles. She looked straight ahead, trying to see the stop light, but it was just gravel in the distance. A car passed her on the left, she smiled as the bright blue farm truck was fully restored, she didn’t know the year but knew it probably from he fifties. There was a young man in the driver seat, white shirt and hair slicked back. His window was down with his left arm hanging our the door. The cigarette butt in-between is fingers lifted as he waved at her. She smiled, she loved seeing old cars brought back to life. One day she hoped she would have one to call her own. She continued driving hoping to see a sign to figure out where she was, she saw nothing, she knew was lost. A little white farm house sat on the side of the road a few yards up, in the drive way sat a chevy two door car with white wall tires, like the one her grandparents use to own. She never knew her grandma, she had died at a young age but the snapshots replay in her mind daily. She was so beautiful and she knew she would have been the sweetest woman she would have ever known. One of the picture has her siting in a car just like this one. She thought it was odd how she saw two fully restored cars so close together but she didn’t think much more of it. She was overjoyed seeing this old farm house kept up & lived in. As she drives around town she would gaze at the old houses and try to picture them in their former glory, this one was glorious. One day she hopes to live in one with her blue truck in the driveway. Emma decided to turn around in the driveway. The house was a small two story square house with a a porch that stretch across the front. There was a freshly painted red barn in the back with a few animals outside. She sees a young women on the front porch sitting crossed legged, her slender figure is hidden under a very modest summer dress. She was watching a little boy play in the gravel with his bright yellow trucks. He couldn’t have been much older than her youngest daughter that sat in the carseat behind her. When she pulled in the young women got up and walked off the porch toward her. Emma thought it might be best to go ahead and get out to ask for directions. She opened the car door and before she could get one leg out the door Olivia’s door swung wide open. Bursting out the car, her daughter ran right up to the woman and gave her a hug, as if they’ve known each other for ages. Stepping out of the car the sun’s rays poured down on Emma’s face and sweat began to form on her forehead, she took off her vest and threw it to the passenger seat. The women looked at her with so much sincerity in her eyes and asked, “Are you okay?”
Rolling up her sleeves Emma answered, “I’m not sure, I think we are lost. We hit a patch of fog a little ways back and I think we got turned around.” She went on to tell her where she lived and the direction they were going but the lady was unable to help them. She asked them if they had time to come sit and have a glass of lemonade, to cool off a bit before the went on their way. Olivia agreed quickly and ran with the boy to play in the yard. Emma grabbed her youngest, Mille, from her carseat and they followed the lady to the porch. As she walked up the gravel path she couldn’t shake that this lady had a familiar face. There was a sweetness in her face that complimented her wavy brown hair, the ends landed just above her shoulders. Emma couldn’t place her but she was quickly distracted by the kids screaming, running right through the two of them. The lady turns, picks up a small metal truck in the path and turns around, “Im Katie by the way” “Nice to meet you, my name is Emma. Thanks again for your hospitality.” The edges of her red painted lips curled upwards and she nodded as she ran in the house real quick, but just before she entered she said, “My mother’s name is Emma.” Emma looked around for a seat on the porch. There was a small antique glider that she saw Katie sitting in earlier to her left, so she picked the other seat. It was a red metal chair, it didn’t glide but it still had a bounce to it. She sat down and rocked with Millie on her lap, looking out at the kids. Moments later Katie pushed open the screen door with the back of her foot and turn around with a tray of lemonade and sugar cookies. She held out the metal tray in front of her and Emma grabbed one of the colorful metal glasses, the coldness felt good to the touch and the dew ran down her fingers. Olivia’s small fingers wrapped around a drink while the other hand picked up as many cookies as she could. “Livi, be polite” said Emma. Katie assured her that it as ok and Olivia smiled at her mom and ran off. Katie went on over to the glider and sat the tray on the side table. Taking a glass for herself she began talking about the beautiful day. Emma looked out onto the road and realized there hadn’t been a car to drive by since the truck she saw earlier She loved how peaceful it was out there. She took a sip of of the lemonade and as the sweetness hit every tastebud in her mouth she knew this was freshly squeezed with roughly six cups of sugar added, it was heaven. She was use to the sugar free lemonade straight from the packets, she savored every sip. Olivia on the other hand had her glass finished and on her way over to the table for seconds. Assuming they would miss her daughters ballet class Emma crossed her legs, leaned back in the chair and enjoyed this beutifuly day with her new friend. They sat there for what seemed like hours. The kids played, they talked about motherhood, being wives and just enjoyed each other company. As the sun hit the peak of the sky Emma felt like it was time to go. The kids were getting cranky and she knew she would have to get them home in time for lunch. She still had to figure out how to get back. She politely said thank you for this time and would love to keep in touch. The lady said she would be back and she came back out with an envelope. On the envelope it said the name, “Catherine” and had a number scratched under it. “Catherine is my name, my friends call me Katie, call me anytime” she said reaching for a hug. Emma thanked her again for the sweet time and they said their goodbyes. They walked down the gravel path and back in the car. After putting the girls in she bucked her seat belt and sat in the front seat. Katie stood in the driveway, with her boy on her hip, waving at them. She looked down at the envelope and noticed there was something inside, slowly and curiously she saw there was a picture inside. Confused she took it out, and as it peaked from white edges she noticed a very familiar picture. It was the one she had seen as a young kid, her grandma Catherine, smiling from the passenger seat of their chevy two door car with white wall tires. Confused, she looked back up to the driveway, but all she could see was the fog had surrounded them again. She looked around her in all directions, there was no sign of the woman, the house or the hot sun. Cars & semi’s whizzed by with their lights on. She looked back down at the photo, turned it over and she could see in the same writing as the front of the envelope, it read, “I love you dear granddaughter, -Grandma Catherine.” tears began to flow from her eyes and they landed on the sweet words. She took a deep breath, “are you ok mommy?” came from the back seat. “yes” as she wiped her tears, started the car and got back on the road. She looked at her clock and it read “9:45”.