The drive home

In the dark it fell out of her hand and lodged itself down beside the seat. Damn, she thought. She would have to pull over.

Sandra had received a phone call that morning from her brother, Ben, asking her to check on the cabin as he was going to be in London for another week and the Real Estate Agent had emailed him, saying ‘…not expecting to get your asking price. Not with the damages’.

It was only last autumn that the family had gathered there for a long weekend. Sandra remembered her parents being so happy having all the family there, god rest their souls.

Sandra pulled into the petrol station, it was the only safe place to pull over. The roads were edged by forest. It was now after ten pm and in this neck of the woods the owner had long gone home.

Ben should know better she thought as she tried in vain to retrieve her mobile phone. How did he expect her to drive up the mountain, on this road. In her anxious state she had pushed the phone down. It was now jammed under the bar that slid the seat back and forwards. She tried to jostle the seat but the phone was stuck. She sat, in the opened door well of her car, trying to hold back her tears.

He never thought of anyone but himself. She could feel her sadness being replaced with anger. She muttered to herself I can do this. She was at least pleased she hadn’t seen the accident scene photos, she hadn’t wanted to know the exact spot for fear of never being able to drive up the winding mountain road, ever again.

It was now a quarter to eleven and she had slowed the car to thirty kilometres. The winding, narrow road became more hazardous and slippery the higher she drove. Her phone rang. She thought, oh dear that will be David trying to say saying goodnight and to let her know the kids were tucked up in bed. She would have to finish up at the cabin tomorrow and drive back down to the petrol station and phone him or else he would have the police out looking for her. Her phone rang again.

She pulled off the main mountain road onto their track. The headlights lit up the thick bush and rain was now falling. The windscreen wipers, were grating as they moved across the windscreen.
The cabin came into view, lit up by the headlights. She brought the car to a standstill and sat peering, trying to see out through the rain as the blades swished across the windscreen. She could see that the front door was open. Her phone rang again.

Great she thought perhaps there was a squatter living inside her Dad’s cabin but surely the real estate agent would have mentioned that there were signs that someone was living there. He had only mentioned damage. Her phone rang again. She sat deep in thought, in her car, in the rain, in the forest, alone. She turned the windscreen wipers off because she thought she heard a siren in the distance. She listened, the siren wailing came and went. It was a long, way off; perhaps even on another mountain and all she was hearing was the echo.

She turned the windscreen wipers back on again peering out onto the ground working out a path through the puddles up to the cabin’s door. The door was now closed. Her heart began to pound and it felt like it was in her throat. Her stomach turned over. Her phone rang again. Her pulse began to pound in her ears. Her breathing fastened. Her thoughts were screaming, what to do? What to do? She heard a twig snap underfoot behind her car. She reached down and pushed the automatic locking button, all the car doors snapped, locked. Her phone rang. She felt down, fumbling, her fingers found the answer button.
She leant down whispering. ‘Hello, hello’. Fear was flooding her body.
‘Hello Sandra’.
‘Ben’, she sobbed. ‘I’m up at the cabin someone is here, I’m really scared. Ben what should I do?’
‘Oh Sandra. I’m sorry I forgot to tell you I organised a carpenter to go out and fix the damage. The door keeps opening in the wind. Perhaps its him, who knows? Perhaps he decided to stay over night. I don’t know perhaps it’s just the wind. I’m sure that’s all it is. You’ll be fine. You can’t stay in the car all night, you’ll freeze’.
Sandra’s thoughts were all over the place. Some things weren’t adding up. ‘Yes you’re right. It’s probably just me. I’m tired and it’s hard coming up here again, you know what I mean’.
Ben replied, ‘Yes, I know what you mean’.
‘Go inside and light the fire and have a good sleep, everything will seem better in the morning. But keep your phone with you’, said Ben.
‘Ben I can’t it’s jammed under the seat’.
‘Oh! Sandra perhaps you should drive home’, Ben said sounding concerned.
‘No. It’s too late. I’m too anxious’…she could hear footsteps…‘and I’m too…’. She looked up and staring back in through the window was Ben.
‘Yes Sandra you’re too what? His voice audible from the phone and through the glass.
She froze and whimpered ‘that road, I can’t drive…’
Ben stood, in the rain, in the forest, beside her car, staring in at her.
Ben said, ‘Neither could Mum and Dad. It was easy, all I did was leave before them. You should have seen their faces. I just waited on the road, just after that really bad bend. You know the one. Dad looked me straight in the eyes. I knew from the bottom of my heart he wouldn’t smash the car into me, even if it meant going over the edge. Unlock the door Sandra. It’s time to drive home’.

The drive home

MillicentMorrow

Melbourne, Australia

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Artist's Description

Trying to submit for the Crime Time weekly challenge, if only I could work out the link!

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mystery crime

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