Rory hitched her backpack higher on her shoulders. The wet backpack was at least twice as heavy as it had been when she left, and her neck ached from the weight. Her tennis shoes sloshed through moonlit rivulets that ran down the sidewalk and into the street, and her socks absorbed and squished out water with every step – like sponges – but Rory refused to go back.
The car’s engine was so quiet that Rory didn’t hear it when it pulled up to her. She’d been listening, too. But for the k-clunk-k-clunk-k-clunk of an ancient engine, not the silent purr of a black convertible.
Rory’s hand clutched her heart as the car rolled down the passenger side window. She leaned over and relaxed upon seeing the driver – a cute blond with an easy smile.
“Hello, darlin’, where you headed?” the woman said.
“The airport,” said Rory.
“Sweetheart, that’s gotta be four hours on foot.”
Rory’s shoulders slumped. “Oh, I hadn’t realized. Well, my flight doesn’t leave until noon anyway. I’ll make it in time.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” the woman said. “Get in. I’ll give you a ride.”
“Oh, I couldn’t, really.”
“C’mon, it’ll only take twenty minutes. I’m already headed that way, it’s no trouble.”
Rory shivered in the cold rain as she deliberated.
She shook her head and opened her mouth to refuse –“That’s very kind, ma’am, but no thank you” – when she heard it.
Rory turned and saw the familiar flash of red cresting over the hill. Coming toward her.
“Darlin’?” the woman said.
“Are you sure?” Rory asked, opening the door and getting inside.
“Absolutely.” The woman put the car in drive, and Rory watched as the red 1957 Chevy pickup passed them. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank you,” Rory said, rummaging through her backpack. She pulled out her journal, now soggy and wrinkled. “Do you mind?” she asked, motioning toward the dash heater.
“Go right ahead,” the woman said.
Rory opened her journal and put it spine-up on the dash, hoping the dry heat would save it. “And honestly, it’s my pleasure. I couldn’t leave you out there; you looked like a drowned rat,” the woman continued.
Rory laughed. “To tell you the truth, I felt like one.”
“Oh, where are my manners? I’m Lucille,” said the woman, laughing.
“Oh, right. Nice to meet you, I’m Rory.”
“Rory? Ain’t that a boy’s name?”
Rory laughed. “Actually, it’s a unisex name. Like Taylor or Alex.”
“Ah. I like it, it suits you.”
“I like to think so. And ditto for yours.”
“Why, thank you, sweetheart.”
Rory examined the vehicle. It was spotlessly clean and the leather seats shone.
“Hey, isn’t this that car from that TV show?”
“You know, that one with the two brothers who hunt for ghosts or something. They drive a pretty black car that looks a lot like this one.”
Lucille snorted. “And I thought I was the blond.” Rory blushed. “That’s a 1967 Chevy Impala. This beauty is a 1966 Cadillac Sedan Deville.”
“Right, sorry, silly me.” Rory stared out the window.
There was a pause.
“So,” Lucille said, “how long you been walking in this weather? You must live close by.”
Rory rubbed her chest. “No, I actually left around ten last night.”
“Ten? Good night, woman, this storm’s been going since nine. Didn’t you have anyone who could give you a ride?”
“Could, maybe, but he never would. He’s the reason I’m leaving.” Rory took a deep breath. “My husband is abusive and so, so manipulative. I just sorta… I guess I just woke up yesterday and realized what he’d done to me, what I’d allowed him to do to me.”
“What do you mean, darlin’?”
“It’s just… he was so kind at first, y’know? Then a couple months in he lost his temper. I was going to leave him, but he was so apologetic the next day. I told myself it was the only time… until a few months later. Then it was every few weeks, then every other day. He convinced me to move far away from my family, from everything I loved.” Rory wiped her eyes.
“Hold on, I got some tissues,” Lucille said, rummaging in her purse.
“I called my dad and he bought me a ticket. He’s waiting for me at home, I just have to get to the airport.”
Rory looked out the windshield, past the curled spine of her now-dry journal, and saw her exit.
“Oh, just turn here…” Rory trailed off as Lucille sped past. “Oh, you missed it. If you take the next exit it’s not too hard to do a u-ey.”
Then Rory felt a pinch in her arm, and looked down to find a needle being pulled out. She followed the hand holding it to Lucille, and her easy smile.
Lucille put the syringe back in her purse and reached for Rory’s journal. Rory tried to stop her, but her arms were heavy – at least twice as heavy as when she’d left – and she could only watch through fuzzy eyes as Lucille snagged the journal – the messy chicken-scratch the only thing that had kept her sane all those years – and tossed it out the window.
It landed with a squelch on the highway as the red taillights vanished into the distance. The words had long since ran from the pages in black rivulets before the rain stopped and the sun rose.
Originally Published in The Literary Hatchet; Issue #14, Page 124.
To read the script based off this story, Click Here.