Fiction Friday: Fork in the Road (Short Story)

Image result for road through cornfield

“We are totally going to get murdered…”

“No, we are not.”

“By a psycho killer…”

“Cut it out, Molly.” At this point, I was completely exasperated.

“…Or an evil scarecrow.”

The sky burned golden orange, the only thing that was beautiful about the horrendous car ride.

“You watch too many horror movies,” I said, exhausted after five hours of driving. “And get your feet off the dashboard.” I scolded as I tapped her scuffed up sneakers. With a huff, she dropped her feet. Crossing her arms, Molly’s face pressed against the window. We drove in silence for a few more minutes.

“Anna, we are beyond lost.” She said. Reluctantly, I slowed the car to a stop and exhaled heavily.

“I must’ve just… taken a wrong turn somewhere,” I explained, fiddling with the gps map while trying to keep my eyes on the, albeit empty, road. I pushed all the buttons in frustration, with no response on the screen. “I think this thing is broken.” I concluded, giving up on the device. Technology and I never got along anyway.

I peered over at the young girl riding shotgun. Molly, my obnoxious and wonderful teenage sister. I remembered the day she was born almost too vividly. My mother’s water broke the day after my twelfth birthday. Then, it was a whole day of labor, Molly was stubborn even in the womb.

She stuffed her hands into the pockets of her red Power Rangers hoodie, feeling the autumn chill that seeped into the car. Her teal hair was braided loosely, a habit when she was bored.

“Sis, look out your window,”

I did. Nothing but corn stalks. Tall, green chutes that seemed to go on for miles.

“Now look out my window,” She gestured to the right.

More corn stalks. More nothing.

“Seriously. We’re freaking screwed.”

That hopeless lost feeling was starting to sink into my chest. And the dramatics of my sister, the city child, didn’t help either. Slouching in the leather seat, I faced forward. A single strip of road cut through the cornfields, seemingly going on forever. Maybe Molly was right, maybe this was like a scene in a horror film, where the murderer would appear through the thick corn fields, and we were sitting ducks.

“I can’t believe Brandon actually lives here. Actually, maybe I can, a boring accountant from the middle of nowhere. Sounds about right.” To Molly, he didn’t strike her as exciting or interesting. And honestly? I felt that way about him too, occasionally. If it was up to her, she would date some artsy guy with a garage band and a tattoo.

An image of Brandon flashed through my mind, with his floppy blonde hair and his morning coffee scent.  The other day, while visiting his parents in Pennsylvania, he called me, suggesting I drive down to see them. ”They really want to meet you.’’ His voice sounded so eager over the phone, like a golden retriever waiting for a walk.

“He doesn’t live here, his parents do. He… wanted me to meet them,” I explained, not realizing how tense the last part sounded, then added. I recalled his directions. Drive through Dutch country, then drive fifty miles west to get to Gettysburg. “And you, baby sister, get to be my well behaved wingman.” I tossed her a smile, despite the ball of anxiousness at the pit of my stomach. My fingernails were chewed to the nubs. An unsettling pressure to fulfill certain expectations weighed on my shoulders.

We kept driving until the road was no longer straight, just left and right. The path divided into a perfect ‘T’.

“Fork in the road. Great.” I muttered to myself, stopping the car then running a hand through my shoulder length, chestnut brown hair. “Any luck with the map?” In her lap, there was a large paper map that had been collecting dust in my glove compartment. Paper maps were far more reliable to me, although she looked like she couldn’t make head or tails of it.

As we tried to figure out our location, the sound of hooves clopping against the pavement caught our attention. An older gentleman in a silver buggy with thin wheels held the reigns to an black stallion. He wore a sweat drenched shirt, leather suspenders, and a wide brimmed hat. The man gave us a sideways glance, which looked more like a nasty scowl. Even the horse seemed to scowl at us as they rode on by.

“Did he just glare at us?” I pondered out loud, raising an eyebrow.

“I don’t know. All I know is I’m adding creepy farmer guy to my list of possible murderers.” She joked, giggling. Her laughter was contagious, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Molly leans the side of her head against my shoulder. I needed to her the real reason for all of this, even if it was at a fork in the road, in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. “Brandon asked me to marry him.”

She lifted her head to look at me. Her hazel eyes grew wide. “What?” She asked, in total disbelief.

I bit my lip, trying to amend my phrasing. “Well, he asked what I thought about getting married.” It didn’t sound any better.

“Wait, wait, wait.” Her hands held up, her brow pinched. “You guys have only been dating for like a year, not even.” I had to give her credit for wise teenage logic. Somehow, Molly always managed to say exactly what someone needed to hear.

I sighed, cradling my face in my hands. “I know. That’s what I told him.” He said he was ready to take that next step. But was I? Were we ready, as a couple? Was I really ready to be someone’s wife? Was this what this whole trip to meet his parents was all about? To get their approval or something?  

Molly looked up at me with big curious eyes. “I don’t know, Moll, with Mom and Dad’s divorce being finalized… And me moving out… And Brandon, he’s…He’s so….” I couldn’t find the right words to finish that sentence.

“Not the one?” Molly offered, tilting her head.

My sister and I sat in the car, at a fork in the road, amongst corn fields in the middle of nowhere. We were lost, unbelievably lost.

Fun fact: This story was originally written in 2015, tweaked in 2019. Inspired by the writing prompt “fish out of water” from Fiction Writing class. See what stories can come from a simple writing exercise?

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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