If we go down this road, we may never be able to get back, and then we’ll be stuck here forever.
A Bump in the Road
By, Melissa R. Mendelson
I left the house on top of the hill, where it so proudly sat. Its pale blue matched the perfect sky. Small windows opened to welcome in life, and whispers drifted along the wind. The driveway graveled and complained as it winded down to the main road, and pretty, little white flowers bowed to its quiet dream. And the neighborly lady nearby rose from her own garden, looked at me, and waved good-bye.
The doctor’s office was only half an hour away. There was road construction up ahead, so my father and I had no choice. We followed the detour around another long, winding road, and as we drove, the windows lowered with the wind whispering in our ear. And the skies were clear until we hit the bump in the road.
“What was that,” I asked my father, but he merely shrugged it off. “That came out of nowhere.”
“Did you bring everything with you?”
“Yeah. I think so. I have my medical card and money for the co-pay.”
“What about the referral?”
“You have that.”
“No. I gave it to you.” My father shook his head and muttered something under his breath. “We have to go back, but we’re closer to town now. So, I’ll take another way home.”
“Okay.” I knew he was mad, but he assured me that he had the referral not me. “I’m sorry,” but I got no response. “So much for a beautiful day,” I muttered.
Within twenty minutes, we arrived back at the house that I had left on top of the hill, where it had so proudly sat. Its sky blue was now a darker shade of a storm that had arrived and destroyed and now stained with despair. Windows hung open, stuffed with tree branches, and whispering off insects making home inside. The door was broken, hung loose, and the remains within were nothing but ashes of another life. But the driveway remained the same.
“What happened!” I launched from the car, fear-struck and numb. “Where’s mom? Where’s Alex?” My father walked up beside me, but he was too shocked to speak. “Where’s mom!”
“I don’t know,” he mumbled. “We weren’t gone that long. This isn’t possible.” He scratched the back of his head. “This isn’t possible,” he repeated.
“Nobody’s lived there for a very, very long time,” a harsh voice said from behind us.
As I turned around, I realized that it was the neighborly lady. She looked ten years older, and her eyes were bloodshot red. Her skin was dry, and her lips were chapped. She rubbed her hands together, breaking another nail, and it fell like dead skin down to the bitter earth. “You got the wrong house,” she snarled. “Get out of here. Now.”
“No. We just left here, and you were working in your garden.”
“Garden? Stupid girl. Everything’s dead. They’re all dead.” She took a step closer, but my father moved in front of me. “Leave here, and never return.” She inched back a step. “Or you won’t be the same.”
“Let’s go.” My father pushed me toward the car. “Come on.”
“But, dad, where is our family? What happened to our house?” The front passenger door closed beside me. “Where the hell are we?” He was speechless, fear-struck just like me. “What do we do?” I stared at the neighborly lady, who flashed an ugly grin at me. “What do we do?”
“We go back.”
“I don’t know.” The car flew out of the driveway. “We just find a way to go back.”
A short distance away, we arrived where there was once road construction. The road was now clear, and for a moment, my father considered going that way. A knot tightened in my stomach like when I got lost. If we go down this road, we may never be able to get back, and then we’ll be stuck here forever. But to my relief, he spun the car around in the direction of where the detour was.
We drove for awhile, and the knot in my stomach tightened again. Who were we kidding? We were lost, trapped here, and our family was gone. There would be no going back. It was just the two of us, so what would we do? How would we live, and tears filled my eyes. And then, there it was, that bump in the road, and as we reached town once more, my father took the other way home, hoping and praying just like me.
The house waited for us on top of the hill, where it always so proudly sat. Its pale blue matched the perfect sky, and its small windows were opened, welcoming in life. The driveway graveled and complained as we drove down to the garage doors, and the pretty, little white flowers bowed hello. And then I saw the neighborly lady rising once more to look our way with flowers in her soft hand and a look of confusion upon her face.
“Did you forget something,” she called my way.
“Yes,” I answered as I walked with my father back to the house. “Maybe, I should reschedule the appointment?”
“That would be a good idea.” He slowly opened the front door. “Maybe… Maybe, we should keep this to ourselves?”
“I agree.” I glanced inside, filled with relief at the sight of home. “All we did was just hit a bump in the road.” I closed the door behind me.