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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Comedy of Errors (not about the play) (08/18/11)

TITLE: The Next Left Turn
By Jackie Smithwick


“Mama you’re on the wrong side of the road,” I yelled.

“Oh my goodness,” she said as she quickly turned to the left, turned around and got back into the right lane.

Summers were hot and miserable in the projects.

My mom, a single mother was working hard at raising her daughters. After a Friday night of swing shift work she agreed to take me and my two girl friends to the beach in the next county. It was a man-made beach on a man-made lake. The sand was trucked in and the water was muddy, but to us three girls it was heaven for a day.

Mama was probably very tired and sleepy, but we three girls were only thinking of our own desire for a cool dip in the lake, and the chance to be with other kids our age.

With the windows rolled down and the air blowing our hair we were giggling about one thing or another as we headed toward the “Four Lane.” We waited at the red light, listening to the radio, singing along and so glad to be getting out of the projects for a little while.

When the light turned green mama turned left onto the Four Lane. It only took a few moments to see we were traveling into on-coming traffic.

Laughter filled the car as I laughingly exclaimed how “crazy” my mom was. Mary and Sharon laughed with me for this was the funniest thing that had happened to us ever.

The laughter subsided, but the mood was joyful as we continued toward the beach. When we came closer to the little town where we knew the beach to be, we realized we didn’t know exactly where it was, so we stopped at the first gas station to ask for directions.

The old man sauntered up to our car eager to help a car full of females. He had grey hair, a pot belly and was wearing a plaid shirt. He stuffed a cigar into his shirt pocket, came closer and bent over next to my window.

“Can you tell us how to get to the beach.” I asked.

Mama listened closely as he said with a smile, “Take the next left turn then right and back left.”

It was very difficult to hear his directions, because I was starring at the smoke coming from the top of his shirt pocket, and the dark brown circle growing at the bottom.

Riding away I glanced back to see him hitting his chest wildly to extinguish the cigar which was burning a hole in his pocket.

Try as hard as she could, even mama, couldn't keep from laughing as we continued. It seemed that through each turn we all would burst into uncontrolled laughter about the man and his cigar.

Fifty years later I now live at the beach on the ocean.

Through Facebook, Mary and I resumed our friendship after 48 years. It was as if the 9th grade was only yesterday. I asked her to come to the beach for a visit. We planned the visit and waited with anticipation for the time we would get to catch up and laugh about old times.

It was a hot summer Saturday morning when my grandson and I headed out early to meet Mary at the airport. On the way to the airport was a left turn on to a very wide six lane road. You guessed it. I turned on to the wrong side of the highway. Thankfully it was early morning and there was very little traffic. Quickly I turned off the road, and got back on the right side.

“I am so crazy!” I exclaimed to my grandson. “You think I am a bit sleepy from getting up early?” I asked, as we laughed and laughed.

“Gram, we have to be crazy or we would go insane.” he said.

Through all the troubles and trials of life there is always a chance to laugh, maybe at the next left turn. Isn’t it funny how life reminds us how human we are? It only seems that the older I get the more often I am reminded.

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Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 08/25/11
Laughter is a gift from God, medicine from heaven! Yes, we should never lose our sense of humor. How apropos that when you go to pick up your friend that you repeat your mom's "error" of direction. Good story. I enjoyed it. God Bless you~
Mildred Sheldon08/26/11
I enjoyed your story. The drivers sounds like me. I'm directionally challenged. I say left wehn I mean right and vice versa. Thanks.