Right Turn

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


A newlywed couple journeys into the woods, where, together, they face the unknown.



This was written for the Imaginarium sentence challenge.

Submitted: January 12, 2018

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Submitted: January 12, 2018

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“Did we take a wrong turn somewhere?”

Jacob turned to Sara and, from what little he could see of her in the darkness, noticed her characteristic eyebrow raise that usually told him he was doing something wrong. “Are you going to be the kind of wife who always doubts my navigational skills wherever we go?” He smiled as he spoke. Sara was now his wife. Saying it out loud seemed to cement it more in his mind.

“That depends,” Sara said. “Are you going to be the kind of husband who refuses to take directions from anyone and then claims he isn’t lost even when he is?” Her voice was critical, but the playful smirk on her face ruined the effect. 

Jacob chuckled and turned his attention back onto the road ahead. Despite his playful banter, he could see Sara’s point. They were now surrounded by towering pines which blocked out the already limited light of the night sky, and they had run out of paved road about three miles back. The car’s headlights cast distorted shadows on their surroundings, causing all manner of dark creatures to spring into existence and then fade into the night. It was an eerie feeling driving alone through the mountains at night, knowing that there was seldom another soul for miles around. This was how every murderer-in-the-woods movie ever made began. If Sara were not with him, he might even be scared.

“Seriously, sweetie, do you know where you’re going?” Sara said.

“Relax, I followed my cousin’s directions exactly,” Jacob replied. “And I used to come here all the time when I was younger, remember?”

“Yeah, like fifteen years ago.” She fell silent for a few moments, and they were engulfed in silence as well as darkness. Then both were broken when a blue light lit up Sara’s face as she looked at her phone and said, “I wish we got service up here so we could use GPS instead of following written directions like a couple of cavemen.”

“Hey, don’t you mean cave-people?” Jacob said. “We don’t want to discriminate now.”

Sara laughed in the musical way that Jacob loved and punched him lightly on the arm. 

The darkness outside seemed to go on forever. Even with his brights on he felt encapsulated. He could see no more than fifty feet ahead. For all he knew, he might just be driving them towards a cliff. All he could do was keep driving, watching the small area of dirt road ahead. Everything else was unknown. In spite of himself, Jacob started to get a bit nervous. He tried to rack his memory for any landmarks he would have seen when he was a boy, coming up here during the summers, but it was futile. Even if he could remember anything from back then, there was no way he would be able to see any such landmarks when it was this dark. He had no choice but to trudge on through the night.

“What if we did take a wrong turn?” Sara said. “Or what if we break down, how will we call for help without any cell service? Or what if a bear—?”

“Sara!” Jacob almost shouted, taking her hand. This was quite typical of his new wife, always worrying over every detail, concocting worst case scenarios out of nothing. He was a little surprised she had agreed to marry him, and even more so when she went though with it. “We are going to be fine. We have a satellite radio if our car breaks down, we have plenty of supplies to last us days, and I thought we had already established that my sense of direction is impeccable, so there’s no way we took a wrong turn.” 

Sara scoffed but gave a small smile.

Jacob squeezed her hand. “And if a bear tries to attack us, you just have to be faster than me, and we both know how easy that’ll be.” 

Sara gave a nervous laugh and squeezed his hand back.

“I won’t let anything happen to you,” he said softly.

Just then the woods opened up to reveal a beautiful, brightly lit cabin overlooking a small lake. It was just as he remembered it. Clearly his cousin had come up to turn the power on for them, for which Jacob was grateful; he didn’t want to spend half his honeymoon trying to figure out how to turn the power on. 

Sara’s face lit up when she saw the cabin. 

“Well,” Jacob said, “I’m glad we made it. It would have been embarrassing for me if I had made a wrong turn.” 

There was more twinkling laughter. Then Sara leaned in and kissed Jacob gently before jumping out of the car and bounding toward the front door of the cabin. Jacob sat for several moments watching his wife before joining her. Life consisted of many wrong turns, but this, Jacob was sure, was not one of them.



© Copyright 2018 J. R. Merrick. All rights reserved.

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