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Reunited

by Paula Shablo 6 months ago in Series

It Does Feel Good

It's so high!

Previously in Part 9: Slip-Sliding and Switchbacks

Part 10

Hello, hello, my Diary Dear,

I overslept.

In my defense, the wind was really howling last night, and the van was rocking. I was afraid we’d blow right off the scenic overlook.

You know, having no windows in the back is a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because I wasn’t about to get out of my nice warm blanket nest to look outside and see if it was snowing again; and a curse, because it stayed dark in here long past time to get my rear in gear.

I was happy to see that it did not snow more. In fact, the wind has swept a lot of the snow away, and I’m not going to complain about that!

This early in the season, it snows and melts. But when I stepped out for a morning constitutional—

That means I had to pee. Ha ha!—

It was still colder than a witch’s tit.

For me, that meant there’d likely be ice on the road, so I’m planning to low-gear my van down the mountain as slow as a snail so I can make the turnoff to the cabin with no problems.

Just so you know—my ice coffee is literally ice. The heater will thaw it out.

I really wanted it to wash down my peanut butter cookie.

But the cookie can wait!

I didn’t tell you, but yesterday I found an old favorite, a snack cake with two layers of chocolate cake with whip cream in the center. I still had coffee in my convenience store mug, so I slammed that messy thing down. It wasn’t as good as the real chocolate cake I found a while back, but face it: there’s no such thing as bad chocolate cake.

I looked out at the road after I ate, and the sight nearly made me faint. We are so high. The road is so twisty. I went to the edge of the overlook, and I could see an icy pond here and a half-frozen pond there, even though I would swear that we didn’t go past any ponds or rivers or lakes at all after we left the frozen pond where we spent the first night.

There was an old barn down there, too--how did I miss that?

Goes to show I was completely focused on the road right in front of me and nothing else. My knuckles hurt today from gripping the steering wheel so tightly.

I decided not to look down anymore.

So, naturally, I looked down again. There, just at the edge beyond the guardrail, a single marigold blossom stood, petals frosted, disdainfully indifferent to the snow.

I will survive!

You know what? If it had been on my side of the railing…

Nah.

I wouldn’t have picked it. Or stomped on it. Anything that stoic deserves to live!

It’s just…after that nightmare, those flowers kind of freak me out.

Onward, Dear Diary: Green Light, Go!

**~**

If anyone ever asks you, be sure to tell them downhill driving is harder.

As the day wore on, what snow and ice there was melted and began running down the road.

The thing about this road—it’s just as twisty going down as it was going up. The water was running in a straight line. So I was in and out of it. From behind, pushing me forward, and then to one side of me, pushing against me.

It wasn’t particularly deep at first, but it doesn’t take much to cause hydroplaning, so I was trying to keep my pace to a crawl.

Not easy on an eight percent grade, even in low gear.

I may never be able to completely uncurl my hands again; I was gripping the steering wheel so hard, and trying not to ride the brakes.

I was leaning as far forward as possible, watching for my turn-off. It’s a fairly sharp turn to the left, and just yards before you reach it, a pear tree grows all by itself near the T-intersection.

No partridge?

It’s a handy landmark, but just the same, I nearly missed it.

A small herd of cattle, led by an impressively gigantic bull and a Border Collie-dog, suddenly veered out of the field to my right and straight into the road.

Thank God I was going so slowly. Thank God for low gear. Thank God for good brakes.

But may God damn flash floods!

The cattle went left, and so did I, and then I saw the tree—

Aughhhh!!!—

— just in time to miss it.

Right before I veered off the road, I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw the waves of water roaring down the hill behind me.

No one wants to see this in their rear view mirror!

I swerved behind the pear tree and onto the dirt road, which takes an almost immediate uphill slant. I drove a few yards up the dirt road and stopped.

A river, foaming and furious, crashed downhill. I saw a few straggling cows swept off their feet and tumbled downstream.

I looked around for the rest of the cattle and discovered they were right next to me, just off the road.

The bull was staring at me.

Well, this is bull...

May I say I am completely over having bulls stare at me, whether they are in a nightmare or there in real life.

At least he didn’t look pissed off.

The dog gave him a nudge and the two of them moved the herd off further uphill.

I thought that was a wise decision and started driving, still taking peeks in the mirror at the river behind me. I realized I was crying and brushed tears off my cheeks.

It all happened so fast!

From my side mirror I had a good view of the pear tree receding in the distance.

Grandpa planted that tree when he and Grandma bought the property where they built the cabin. He didn’t own the land by the road, but no one ever objected. I don’t suppose anyone thought much of it one way or the other, although—logically speaking—a pear tree would never grow in the area. As I rounded a curve, my last look of the tree revealed that its branches were heavy with fruit.

I tucked that information away for future reference.

**~**

After all the stress and excitement of the road, I have reached my destination.

I know the front looks more house-like than cabin-y, but it really is a log cabin. Grandpa added the front façade as a joke between himself and Grandma. She always wanted a cottage in the woods, so he gave her one.

When I reached the clearing, the first thing I saw was the truck. Grass-green and definitely big, as Aaron had noted in his letter to me, it has a long bed and an extended cab. After the tiny thing Mom’s been driving, I was amazed at the size.

Are they really in there? Are they okay?

I clambered out of the van, leaving the door open.

You know—just in case. I still envision zombies from time to time.

There. I said it.

I stood back from the door and extended my arms out to my sides, hands at waist level.

I’m unarmed. I’m harmless.

A small face appeared in the window and my heart leapt in my chest. It continued to gallop when the small face was joined by a larger one.

Both faces disappeared, and for a moment of utter despair, I was certain I had imagined them.

Then the front door burst open.

“Mom! Mommy! Mom!”

Dear Diary,

Even as I write this, Aaron is cuddled in my arms. My mother hasn’t stopped smiling, although tears continue to roll down her cheeks.

Mine, too.

Shortly after we’d dived into each other’s arms, we went inside and had a meal. Aaron presented me with a small box wrapped in brown paper.

I eyed it, suspicious. I had a sudden vision of the paper-wrapped package at the library.

Of course, Aaron would never hand me a bomb—

“What’s this?” I asked.

“For your birthday, Mom,” he said.

Wow. I completely forgot that we’d been planning a birthday celebration for that weekend so long ago…

Well…it wasn’t that long ago, but it really feels like forever.

It was certainly a lifetime ago.

I opened the box. Inside, I found a sturdily linked golden chain.

“It’s for your locket,” Aaron explained, “because your chain broke.” His little face looked crestfallen as a realization hit him. “But I guess that’s gone now, huh?”

I smiled. Reaching into my hip pocket, I withdrew the heart-shaped locket and held it up for him to see.

“You went back!” he cried, elated.

“Of course I did. I will always go back for you.”

I don’t know what our next moves in this new world will be. All I know is, no matter what, we will be together.

What could it be?

This story is the 10th and final episode in a series featuring Shelby and her little friend, Diary. All the stories are part of the Summer Fiction Series Challenge. You can read the rest of my series here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

Part 7:

Part 8:

Part 9:

I am considering publishing this as a complete Novelette. The Summer Fiction Challenge has been a great deal of fun for me.

If you have been enjoying this and any of the other stories in the series, please let me know by scrolling down and clicking on that heart button.

While tips are never mandatory, I appreciate them VERY MUCH!

Thanks for reading!

Series

Paula Shablo

Daughter. Sister. Mother. Grandma. Author. Artist. Caregiver. Musician. Geek.

(Order fluxuates.)

Follow my blog at http://paulashablo.com

Follow my Author page at https://www.amazon.com/Paula-Shablo/e/B01H2HJBHQ

Read next: Runaway

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