Don currently resides in Orlando Florida where he is studying Creative Writing for Entertainment. He does dream big, but sometimes too big. Then again a little optimism never hurt anyone.
Hitching A Ride
Carol screamed as she threw the tire iron against the door of the car. It didn’t help the situation at all really, and the dent it left only added to the cost of the damage.
“It’s fine,” she tried to convince herself as she wiped the sweat from her forehead. She could not have been any less prepared for her journey. No spare tire, no power on her phone, and no backup plan. She accused everyone, even life itself, did not want her to reach her dreams and move forward with her life.
“Stay here and work in the store,” her family said. The store that offered little opportunity and even less excitement.
“Help keep the family business alive,” they continued, as if they were actually suffering. She had heard it enough times that the dam finally broke.
“Fuck the store!” Carol had responded in front of customers. “Fuck the store! Fuck this town! And fuck you! I need to do this with my life, it’s what I want!” she remembered yelling while clutching her acceptance letter in her hand. It was rare for her to suddenly outburst like that, but enough was enough. She looked back on it. She admitted she overreacted a little bit, but that was nothing compared to her practically stealing one of the family’s two cars and begin making her way across the country to New Jersey. That was only last night, and now she was stuck in the middle of nowhere.
She was not entirely alone. Passing the horizon she could see a vehicle approaching. There had to be another option. This was beneath her. Nope, she had to do this. She had to humiliate herself.
This has got to be karma, she thought.
She stepped to the side of the road and stuck her thumb out, but not without hanging her head in shame. “Please don’t stop,” she said to herself. “Please?” No such luck. She watched the window of the van slowly roll down, and of course the man driving matched the vehicle. Pale and outdated.
“So uhh,” began the driver, “do you need a lift?”
“Oh no. I just thought that I’d get some fresh air and give you the thumbs up letting you know how good of a driver you were. What the hell do you think?” she said. She was too frustrated to filter her words and realized how rude that was. She expected the driver to take off without her. She wouldn’t blame him.
“I think you’ve been out in the sun too long,” he said looking at the tire on the ground. “There’s an exit a few miles up the road that leads to a small town with a private repair shop. Nice folk. They’ll be able to bring a tow truck out and take your car in.” He unlocked the van’s passenger door. “I can take you there if you want. Unless you want to tell the next person how well their driving is.”
Although she was thankful he did not leave she still felt humiliated for flagging down help. The air conditioning felt good, but the van smelled like it had lost its new-car smell about fifty years ago. Carol watched as she left her car behind hoping that she got everything that she needed from it. The silence for the first couple of miles did not feel comfortable at all.
“So what’s your name?” he asked. She did not answer. “Look I’d turn the radio on, but it’s been busted since last month. ‘Least we can do is keep each other entertained.” The silence was already killing her so much that she decided to give in.
“Carol. What about you? Where’re you headed?” she asked trying to carry the conversation.
“Daniel,” he said pointing to his ID holstered on the dash, “I’m on a business trip to Indiana. Nothing too exciting. How about you?”
“I’m trying to get away from family actually. They don’t think university is the best thing for me,” she said. “They think staying in that small nowhere-town and working in their shop is the life I was meant to have. Well screw that!”
“So you stole their car and ran away.” He lightly accused.
“What? No I didn’t steal—“ She was cut off by his quick glance that screamed doubt at her. “Alright. I stole one of their two cars. It’s not like they needed two.” She thought for a moment. “How’d you know?”
“Because I did the same thing when I was seventeen as well.”
“I’m nineteen, thank you.”
“Sorry, you just seem a bit young. At least you have a reason. I left because I was fed up. There’s nothing I regret more to this day.”
“You regret leaving?” she asked. She thought that leaving to live his life was the best decision he could have made.
“I do. After two days I wanted to go back, but my pride wouldn’t let me even though I had no on else to look to for help. I got lucky though. I managed to find a stable life and got the chance after years to go back to apologize. I was too late though. Never got the chance. Now I realize that they were just being parents.” There was silence for the the rest of the drive.
Carol thought back to her family as they took the exit. They were the only people she could go back to and she had pretty much alienated them. What if things did not go as planned and she needed them? Would they help her? Just how bad had she hurt them? She was so caught up in her head that she did not notice they had pulled up to the repair shop.
“Look I’m sorry for what I said—“ She was cut off again.
“Don’t apologize to me. You take care now,” he said before he drove off.
Carol knew who to apologize to, and she would as soon as she could.