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There's a Turn Up Ahead
by Tara Roper
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was driving with a friend . We were heading to my house. I couldn't help but notice we seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. I thought to myself, " perhaps he knows another way to my house.", and so, we drove on. From time to time, he would stop at lights or signs. I noticed he seemed deep in thought, until the lights turned green.

Then it was a race, he was not much for speed limits. Boy, he loved to race. And, he is very good at it. He comes in first all the time. We continued weaving in and out of neighborhoods. My confidence in his compass began to teeter. He couldn't seem to make up his mind.

We drove in and out of quiet streets, and then immediately back onto highways. Slow then fast, again slow, and fast. But, his face only changed at the red lights and stop signs. Most of the time driving, he is real excited, it shows on his face. But, I was perplexed when we saw yellow lights and had to either slow down or gun it through to make the light. It was perplexing to me, because sometimes he looked as if pondering life, other times, sort of deflated. If he missed the light, deflated that the direction wasn’t clear.

If he came to a stop sign, just sort of quiet thinking. As if wondering, why have I stopped? What authority does that silly sign have over me? A few times, as he stopped at the sign and then went on his way, he would stomp on the gas and off we would go.

No But, it was the other times I noticed the most. Occasionally, he would glance back at the stop sign as we drove, as if recalling a memory or looking for something. Maybe a bigger sign? Was he looking for something? No one else was around. I think he is racing against himself. I couldn't be sure. Here and there, I would think this might be a good time to unfold my map, to suggest the way to go that never led me astray. He would scoff, always politely, but scoff none the less, and cut me off.

"I got it, I got it. My way works, it has to, I've driven it a million times."

And, so, I sit back again, fiddle with the radio.

No sooner do I settle on a station, he quizzically inquires of my taste in music,

" You are really into this stuff aren’t you?"

I have to concur as I reply, "It helps me focus while on the road."

He chuckles, and tolerates my music, seemingly amused. We listen as we continue driving. Every once in a while, he glances over at me as if to say "So....what is it again about this music you like?", but since I assume these thoughts, I say nothing in defense. As the trip lingers, he begins looking around and sees the map I had suggested. He says nothing though. I start feeling as though he may be really lost now.

We continue through his course, fast, excitement, slow, frustration, stopping, saddened. Sometimes really sad I begin to see. Especially when things come to a long drawn out halt. Not wanting to annoy him, I'm alone with my thoughts. I wonder, "How is he making it through that last intersection without this map?" When I come to those types of intersections, I always need a map. I'm lost without it. Truly, truly and utterly lost.

I sit, a little bored, but cozy in that passenger seat. Maybe too cozy given that fact that we seem to be getting nowhere here. I reach up to check my seatbelt, and inwardly sigh with relief that it is fastened so securely around me. He doesn't wear his seatbelt. I ask him about this,

"Hey, you might want to buckle up, these roads get treacherous sometimes."

He replies "Nah, I'm good thanks. Besides, I've never seen the proof for myself that they keep you on the road any better."

My heart sinks a bit. No map, no direction, and now no safety belt. How will we make it home? I peek at my map, and am instantly reassured, I will make it home. I still don't know the whole route from here, but the map is always right. I try to share my new found relief with him, he is indifferent, but listens.

Just then, as I am getting anxious, I look up, and we are pulling into the driveway.

"Awesome, just awesome. " I say. My hand patting my folded map in thanks.

He disregards me and takes the credit for getting us here.

"The map didn't bring us here, I did the driving."

I look at the ground, and although I want to bite my tongue, I can’t anymore. My inner GPS is poking at me.

"Well, if you had just given the map a chance, the ride wouldn't have been so tough. All those potholes, missed lights. At least we you would have known where you were going. Trust me, it shows you the way to get here. And, can only be better for your passengers too."

I know I am sounding annoyed with him, but its more disappointment in myself for not speaking up sooner…and louder. He sort of stares at me, I usually don't speak up this way, at least, not about his driving.

“Look, this car is just a shell, moving you from place to place. The important things are inside. Like , the map. It’s inside. Reminds you where you are headed and how to get there. Tells you the way to go.” I stare back at him. “Trips could be so much better, but I can’t force you to use a map I guess, even if it clearly shows the way to go.”

Inwardly, I want to open the map, shake it, and keep placing it in front of him. But, I know, I can’t do that. All I can do is have the map there and available. And so, I’ll settle for that again.

"Nah.....there are tons of ways home."

My head drops as I walk up my stairs. I’m deflated again.

"No, there is only one true way”. I say too quietly. “One road home."

He looks confused. As he turns, I think, I don't know when I'll see him again. My house is pretty far from his. We only get together from time to time. I wish it could be more. I look back, feeling like I want to run back, like I missed something. Like I didn’t share the one thing I wanted to say.

He stands there, not joining me. As he turns away, he notices, I have left the porch light on and front door open for him if he chose to come in. He rolls his eyes, gets back in the car, and as he begins to back out. He sees the map on the floor. He pauses, and reaches for it. It’s just out of reach. His car is cluttered and there is too much in his way.

"What’s she all fired up about anyhow?"

He pulls out and heads up the street. He glances over again at the map, and pauses to push some things in his way aside. He sees a sign ahead and rolls to a stop. He glances in his rearview mirror, sees her porch light, still welcoming him if he chooses to return.
She has stepped back out onto the top stair, with the hope that he may return, or at least hesitate on his normal course.
These roads coming up don't look familiar, he thinks to himself. He wonders what is up ahead.

He looks back down, he starts to open the map, which he sees, is not a map at all. He opens it all the way and reads quietly,

"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." John 14:6

He folds it carefully. He looks up. He has come to a fork in the road.

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