Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ROAD TRIP (vacation) (07/02/15)
TITLE: When Someday Comes
By Rachel Barrett
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Last thing I wanted to do, vacation alone. Well, almost. “Want some A/C, Sunday?”
“Wuf!” She whaps her tail on the seat.
That's cowdog for “yes”. I hit the switch, and the ancient system coughs, gags, then spits halfway cool air. Sunday peers out, watching dusty pastures roll by, so close her nose smudges the window. Dadgum, this truck's a mess. I should wash it.
I'm a mess. Hardly slept all week, running on caffeine and fumes. Haven't shaved since the funeral. Couldn't face going home.
There's some fingerprints on that window I'm not washing off.
Jamming the gearshift, I stomp the gas, and Sunday scrabbles for balance as the old truck goes bucking over a pothole. Drive, just drive. Stop thinking.
The road smooths into a yellow-dotted ribbon, dulling the distraction I need. Everywhere I look reminds me. Cow pastures, miles and miles of cow pastures. Leah liked cows, the stupid critters. Even that vicious one last year, ear tag 59—the one we named Mad Cow.
I smack the A/C off and roll down all the windows. Wind thunders with a deafening gush, and Sunday leans out the passenger side, tongue flapping. At least she's happy. Might as well grit my teeth and drive. Been planning this trip for years, promising someday we'd go.
Leah's little crystal cross, swinging from the rearview mirror, catches sunlight in glints and sequins. The thin grass outside is blond, just like her hair was, until . . .
I blink away stinging dust and drain the tepid coffee. Someday, always someday. That was our motto. Someday let's travel, finish school, maybe have a family. Let's save some money first, get our feet under us. Hey, let's make a bucket list.
Then you find out you've got six months left to squeeze in a whole lifetime.
I lean back on the headrest, remembering Leah's courage and guts as she fought so hard to stay with me. All I could do was hold her, pray with her, cry sometimes. Couldn't find a way to tell her how sorry I was, that I wish I hadn't worked so hard, what I'd give for one more day with her. No planning, no someday. Just her.
Dust must be blowing thicker, because I can barely see. My hands clench so tight around the steering wheel it hurts to grip any harder. I've already punched everything I can think of. Prayed. Asked why. I've begged for an answer—anything—and God's as silent as that busted radio.
“She didn't hate You for it, but I sure do!” Screaming helps. I grind a boot on the gas.
“BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWNK!” The eighteen-wheeler horn jumps me six inches off the seat, and I jerk the wheel, swerving hard. The semi skins past, just missing my fender.
Skidding off the highway, I fight to brake through a tangle of scrambling dog, gearshift, and popping clutch. The truck dies with a shudder, and we jounce to a stop, tilted crazily in the ditch.
Silence, except for the hissing engine. Sunday whines, crawling out from the floorboards, and I pick myself up off the dash. Hands shake so bad I can't even hold the wheel.
Wind flutters the mowed-down weeds, and adrenaline slows, letting me breathe again. Sunday creeps into my lap, and we sit together. She's trembling too. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
Don't know who I'm apologizing to. God knows I didn't mean it. So does Sunday. The one I want to tell, I can't.
Always thought we'd have a lifetime to say “I love you.” Sunday's fur soaks in the tears I thought had dried up, while traffic passes on the highway like the fleeting minutes of a life. I can get the truck started again. Patching my heart back together, alone, is another story.
Fumbling in the backseat for a tissue, I find something soft and leather-bound. One sleeve gets my eyes where I can see again, and I stare at Leah's pocket Bible, her name scripted across the binding.
I'll see her again.
She wrung that promise out of me, our last night together, that I'd catch up with her someday. If that's the only thing that keeps me going, I swear I'll make it. One day at a time, for her, until someday comes.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NKJV)
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