She was cold. She should have grabbed another jacket she thought to herself as she wandered down the road. Glancing behind her she spied an old blue truck coming her way. Holding her thumb out she held back her long brown hair with her other hand. Smiling when the truck slowed down she edged to the road and waved.
“Where you headed to doll?” The elderly man asked as he leaned over to the passenger window, cranking it down.
“Just the next town over. Can I catch a ride it’s awfully cold out here.” She smiled at him.
After her nodded his head and unlocked the door she grabbed her bag and slid it in between them on the tattered bench seat. Closing the door, she buckled in as he started speeding down the road. The interior was almost as old as he was she thought as she glanced at his snow-white hair.
“Why you running away fer’?” he asked as he lit a cigarette. And looked at her from the corner of his eye.
Looking out the window she pushed her curls back out of her face and turned to him. “My step-dad is a drunk, and when he drinks he’s mean, real mean. I’m trying to get to my sister’s place. She ran away too and she’s doing good for herself. She said I could come stay if I needed.” Fiddling with a loose string on her jeans she looked down from the look in the man’s eyes, it was the same look everyone gave her sympathy and she didn’t want that or need it.
“S’long as you ain’t a criminal I don’t care, I would’ve booted you out back on the road.” He said cackling as he flicked ash from the cigarette.
Smiling at him she turned and looked back out the window. They had just passed the sign saying the town was 45 miles away. She hoped he would take the whole way. But if not, she was grateful to be out of the cold for now.
“I’m Jenny. Thank you for the ride. I really appreciate it.”
“Marty, and it’s no problem little missus. You remind me a bit of my own granddaughter I didn’t have the heart to see you alone at night traipsing down the road. She ran away too, the difference is the man who stopped for her was the last person to ever see her.”
Turning she looked and saw his blue eyes darken with, sadness and anger. “couldn’t live with myself if I just kept driving, same could have happened to you.”
He turned his head and smiled at her. “Don’t worry none about me though, I’m too old for that nonsense.”
Smiling she leaned against the windows and shut her eyes. She was so tired. She had been walking for hours before he stopped. Her legs hurt, and she was hungry. Before long, she fell asleep.
Marty looked over at the young girl and sighed. She was so young to go through what she was, but he didn’t even know her, he thought to himself so how could he really help? The least he could do was get her to her sister’s and make sure she was safe. Taking his jacket off he tossed it over her and smiled. He hadn’t planned to go to Jackson today, but it looked like that was where he was heading.
She didn’t remember falling asleep she thought as a gentle hand shook her awake. Sitting up she wiped the sleep from her eyes. “where are we?” she said as she looked out the window.
“McDonald's, I stopped and got us some dinner now, tell me your sister ‘s address and we can head that way, we’re in Jackson now girl.”
Grabbing the burger, he handed her she greedily took a bite as she rattled off an address to him. The food was almost the best she ever had she thought as it filled her belly, she washed it down with the cool coke. As they got closer she started to recognize landmarks and her excitement grew, she was really going to be back with Laurie. She couldn’t wait. Grabbing her bag, she shuffled around in it and pulled out a school photo of herself. As they pulled up in the driveway she leaned over and hugged the man. “Here I want you to have this as a thank you.”
He smiled as he watched the two sisters hug as he drove away.