The Journey : Part One

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story of a young girl who crosses the country in hopes of being reunited with a friend from online, with whom she felt considerably deep feelings for.

Submitted: December 02, 2011

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Submitted: December 02, 2011

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Part One: The Beginning

 

 

We’d never met, at least not in person.  Yet here I was, leaving home under the dark of the night.  Where I was going, I wasn’t quite sure, I just knew I had to get to the west coast to find him.  I had a general location and an address, other than that I was traveling blind.  Technically, this sudden trip to leave home was probably a horrible idea.  I didn’t have a car, only a backpack full of what I thought I would need and $40.  Pretty stupid.  I should have prepared better.  Oh well, what’s done is done and I’ve already shut the door to my home and walked out.  Things were getting out of control and I no longer wanted to be a part of that life, so I made the decision to leave.  Of course, I didn’t exactly have to leave in runaway style, but hey, I always loved a little challenge, so whatever.  I’m here now and I know that I need to get to an old friend.  We’d never actually met, but talked for a few years online.  We hadn’t talked in awhile because of the stress of communicating online, but we had a connection that was amazing.  For the last several years I have not met anyone other than him that I could really talk to, really entrust with my thoughts and dreams and emotions.  There were no ties, we weren’t in love, we were just friends, who could talk to each other openly and honestly.  No holds barred. 

As my feet make contact with the pavement alongside the road, my thoughts begin to wander and I begin to think of all the day dreams I had for my friend.  We never fell in love with each other or tried to be a couple, but we had a deep connection where flirting and daydreaming occurred between us.  I remember we talked of having a cabin in the woods somewhere in the northern mountains and how we would dance in the snow together.  We shared a love for mountains and cold and the thought of being with someone who I shared such a deep connection with was great for my soul.  When we talked I was always left with a calm and content happiness that I had never felt before.  This is why I found myself on the side of the road walking to the west.  I knew my way around the eastern and middle states pretty well from all my years traveling, so I knew that I could get to where I was going.  My only concern was when I got the western states and had to cross the desert,  I didn’t know what a desert was like and I definitely didn’t know what it was like mid September, but I figured that I could handle whatever was thrown my way. 

I stopped as a truck pulled up next to me, one of those big rigs with eighteen wheels, only this one didn’t have its trailer.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do if the driver was a man… it would be great to get a ride at least part of the way to my destination… but a man would most likely ask things of me in return for hitching that I was not willing to give.  The door swung open as I held my breath in silence, cars passing by.  I watched in disbelief as two women faded into my view as the door opened.  The one closest to me wore her hair dark like mine and the one in the driver’s seat wore a light shade of brown.  Their skin was faded from the years and held a kind of wisdom in the wrinkly lines that immediately put me at ease.  “Hey there, do you need a lift?” the dark haired passenger asked me as she looked down at me from her perch in the seat.  “Where you headed?” I asked in reply.  She shot back, “west”.  “Well that just so happens to be the direction I’m going in… will it be all right if I tag along for a little?”, she told me that it wouldn’t be a problem at all and got out to let me get in.  As I took my seat in the middle between them I told them my name and that I was headed for Northern California.  The light haired in the driver’s seat introduced herself as Lynnette and her dark haired companion, June.  “We’re headed towards Vegas, that’s where our shipment set out from, but we’ve got to pick up a trailer outside of Memphis tonight though“, Lynnette said as she looked me over out of the corner of her eye. I could tell she was wondering about my story and why a female as young as me was out hitchhiking in the night, but would settle for answers later.  “That sounds good to me, I know my way around a bit over here. I’d be grateful to travel with you as long as possible.  Whatever you have to do along the way, I’ll offer help any chance I can… I’m pretty good at manual labor”, I figured that if I offered some help maybe they’d be more likely to let me ride along the whole way, because getting a ride all the way to the California border would be a blessing.  That would save me a ton of time and leg work.  

“We wouldn’t mind the change in company, would we Lynnette?”, June laughed over at her companion.  “We’ve been driving together for years now and being able to have a change in stories and conversation would be great!” Lynette just laughed along with her.  I asked them where outside of Memphis they were headed and they told me they had to stop by a factory in Bartlett and then deliver it to Amarillo, TX by tomorrow night.  I knew that drive was going to be a straight drive all night long.  From Memphis to Amarillo was well into the 12 hour range.  “You have any money for food along the way?”, Lynnette was looking at me.  “I’ve got enough, not much, honestly, but enough.  Thankfully I don’t eat a lot, let alone very often”.  She looked dubious.  She looked back at the road in thought as we hopped on I-40 west. 

 

Part Two: The Distance

 

The past two days had been uneventful, but interesting enough.  I found out that Lynnette and June were from Southern California near Bakersfield and that they were due for their break after this trip.  Thankfully they invited me along for a ride to Bakersfield and from there I was on my own though.  Lynnette had two daughters, one in college and one that was married and expecting a baby in a few months; June didn’t have any children, but had been married and divorced five times when she finally decided that men just weren’t worth it.  She got a laugh out of my story and the fact that I was hitching a ride with truck drivers to get to some guy on the other side of the country.  She didn’t try to persuade me otherwise though, thankfully.  Lynnette at first was iffy towards me, but when she learned that I wasn’t a vagabond or prostitute or anything nasty like that, she quickly warmed up to me.  She was very nice, kind of motherly in a funny way.  She was full of advice and even gave me a name and number to contact when I got to my destination so that I could get a job and take care of myself.  I thought that was extremely wonderful.  I felt completely blessed to have happened upon them… or that they offered me a ride.

After Amarillo, we set out for the 14 hour drive to Las Vegas.  The ride was amazing; I had never experienced anything like it, the desert, and the mountains… even the cities looked different.  It was pretty cool.  But the main surprise was when we got to Las Vegas, June laughed when she saw my expression when we first approached the city.  I had never seen anything like it before, it was so bright and huge. Some people were dressed to the T and then some were ridiculously slummy looking.  Once they finished their delivery in Vegas, they drove out to the truck resting stop and we all piled into their vehicle, a big four door Ford truck.  From there Lynnette drove us the five hours to Bakersfield.  It was a wild ride; June was even wilder knowing she was going to be getting some rest soon.  Once we got there, we drove up to a pleasant sized home and all got out and I was given the guest bedroom.  Once I got settled I passed out and fell into a deep sleep.

I slept in for awhile, because I was so tired from the trip.  Obviously I hadn’t eaten much the whole way.  It had only been a few days since I’d left and I hadn’t had the time to really think of what was happening back at home now that everyone realized that I was gone.  But all through the night I tossed and turned because of the guilt that was eating away at me.  I knew that I was right in what I was doing. I had good intentions; it was just a little rash and a bit dangerous.  I had come across quite a bit of good luck so far in my journey.  I lay in bed thinking that I needed to call home and at least let them know I was ok.  I figured by now they had called all of my friends and I didn’t want them thinking I had been kidnapped or murdered or something terrible along those lines… and yet I was not looking forward to that phone call.  This was probably why my butt was still in bed.  When I finally decided to get up, I got dressed and went out to find Lynnette sitting at a table in the kitchen reading the paper.  “The showers ready if you want to get cleaned up”, I was glad that she would let me use it, because I knew I was dirty.  I hadn’t showered, shaved or cleaned in any way since that first night.  I figured it wasn’t going to be very good for me to show up looking like a hobo when I first approached him.  I thanked her and made my way to the bathroom where I was able to wash my body in hot water and clean the grit and grime away.  It was then that a strange thought occurred to me, something that I probably should have thought of to begin with.  What if he had a girlfriend?  I didn’t have a clue what I would do if he did... but then again I figured I could always just be friends with him and plus, as long as he wasn’t married I might still have a chance.  I laughed at myself for that thought.  How silly of me.  I figured I could always give him a call, I hadn’t forgot his number all those years and since I had talked to him awhile back earlier in the year I figured it wouldn’t seem too much out of the blue.  Hopefully. 

After showering, I returned once again to the kitchen to find Lynnette and June at the table.  They offered me a delightful breakfast of bacon, eggs and orange juice.  It was like something out of a movie.  I had never really had that kind of breakfast before; it was always cereal or just straight coffee.  I took my time eating, when I began to notice that the two ladies kept exchanging a look between themselves, so I figured it was my time to make an exit.  “You guys have been amazing to me and I don’t even know how to express my gratitude for what you have done.  I would still be in Tennessee if it weren’t for the two of you.  I was wondering if it would be all right if I made a few phone calls before I set out for Rocklin…?” , they exchanged that look again and then I saw June smile that mischievous smile of hers and I gave them both a questioning look.  June looked at me and then at Lynnette, “Should I tell her now?” Lynnette smiled and nodded.  “All right, missy, we have something we want to tell you,” I didn’t know whether to be worried or not… “We’ve both taken a liking to you and would like to help you out a bit.  You are a good girl who just needs some help in life in order to get where you want to go.  Now, Lynnette and I have a few things we would like to give to you to help you out and we won’t accept no for an answer”.  I don’t think I’d ever been so confused, I didn’t have a clue what they were up to, but I was thinking it was something good, but I was still confused as hell.  “Being a woman who has been through five marriages, I have acquired quite a few extra possessions that I neither want nor use anymore.  I think you are the perfect person to take those possessions off my hands.  I trust that you will forever take good care of them because you know what it’s like to not have and know how to exist without.  So, for starters, in my second marriage I was married to a man who bought me a very nice house a little outside of Sacramento.  Now that I’m not with him anymore, I really don’t have a need for the house, so I figured you would be the perfect person to take it off my hands.  Now, it’s nothing to fancy, but it’s a home, nevertheless.  I figure you can stay there as long as you’d like”. I stared at her in disbelief… I was pretty sure I was still asleep or something, because this couldn’t be right.  No one just gives away property like that.  June laughed at me, for I’m sure my mouth was hanging open.  I tried to say something, but it only came out in stutters.  “Now, I know you may be in shock, but honestly I don’t need it and its way to far to travel to it, especially when I travel for a living.  I like it here and if I was ever going to move, it would be south where it’s warm, not up there near the mountains… and I definitely don’t plan on living near my ex either”, she and Lynnette laughed at this.  Also, I’ve got a couple of cars in storage that I’ve been meaning to get rid of and I think one of them would be perfect for you”.  At this I had to say something, a home and transportation, no way.  “June, I don’t know what to say, I think my heads having a hard time fully grasping what’s going on right now, but there’s no way I can take these things from you without payment”.  I had grown up with the teaching that you work for what you get.  I was never handed anything and everything I had was paid for in full.  Though technically at the moment I only had a backpack full of random stuff.  June stopped me and told me that she wanted to help me because she was extremely blessed and she had never had any children and had taken a very huge liking to me.  She proceeded to tell me that her only request was that I come see her often and get a phone pronto so that she and I could talk regularly.  Not being much of a girly girl, for I was well known for my tomboy ways, I felt silly when I felt tears welling up in my eyes.  I couldn’t believe that someone would be so generous towards me.  “Now, hon, you and I are going to go out and get the car out of storage cause I’ll need someone to drive it back.  We’re going to fill her up with gas and help get you ready”.  I smiled and told her all right.

With that we piled into Lynnette’s truck and they drove me to a storage unit outside the city.  It turns out that June had acquired more than just a vehicle or two from her previous marriages.  She had a total of five vehicles, a boat with living quarters and an RV, not to mention four storage units full of stuff.  The vehicle that June was giving to me was perfect.  It was a newer model Chevy SUV, with tons of room.  I still couldn’t believe that she was giving me a car, I felt kind of shy at the thought because I wasn’t used to just getting things from other people.  From there we went to a gas station and filled the Chevy up and then I followed Lynnette with June in the car with me to a nearby Wal-Mart.  Here they loaded me up with food and two coolers with ice.  They also gave me all the necessities that I was going to need living on my own, like blankets and pillows, shampoo and conditioner, under garments and socks, and things like that.  I wasn’t sure what to make of everything and felt overwhelmed and tried to protest but they wouldn’t hear of it.  Finally it all came to an end and we headed back to their house.

Part Three: The Struggle

 

 

I stared at the phone in my hand, knowing the number, but not wanting to dial.  I hated the feeling that I was having.  I knew what I needed to do, but yet I knew that there were going to be tears and anger involved and as someone who always avoided conflict, this was running right to it.  It went against my nature, but I had to do it.  I slowly began entering the number for my mother’s cell and hit dial.  I listened as the tone rang twice and then she answered, “Hello?” there was a hint of urgency in her voice with an after taste of sadness. 

“Mom, it’s me”, was all I was able to say,

“Ashley! Where are you?  What the hell are you doing? Do you have any idea what I have been going through these past few days?!” 

I couldn’t speak, there was such a massive tangle of emotion in her questions I wasn’t sure what to say, “I’m sorry I left like that, I really am, but I just didn’t see any other way around it.  You never would have let me leave on my own peacefully and I needed to leave.  You’re always so controlling, even a mere mention of me growing up, branching out on my own and doing something by myself was met with resistance and negativity.  It was too much.  You of all people should know how much I need independence and you were the bridle that kept pulling me in whatever direction that you wanted to go.  And then Meme, she was just too much… between her insistent hatred towards me and her control problems; I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I’m sorry, I love you very much, but I needed to get out of that house”. 

Silence met my reply, I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I’m pretty sure my mother hadn’t seen this conversation going that way.  I had never talked to her like this, never been so open with her like this.  I could hear her tears through the phone and knew her anger had subsided. 

“I knew that Meme was being controlling, but I didn’t realize you thought I was.  I thought we were having fun with the music, I thought that was what you wanted?” 

“It was, mom, but you took over and started making it your own thing.  You knew I wasn’t that serious about the band cause I wanted to go to college and yet you became obsessed with playing music and getting bigger and bigger.  It became an obligation to play; it wasn’t fun anymore because you were so crazy about it”. 

“I’m sorry, Ash, I really am.  I didn’t realize… I knew you had become angrier recently, but I never thought it was because of all this.  I’m sorry”, she finished quietly with one last apology.  I knew she meant it, I could practically feel her regret and guilt seeping through the phone.  It hit me hard, because I never liked it when I hurt her, but this time she had caused her own pain and her actions had consequences.

“Can I at least know where you are?”

“I’m in California”, I heard a gasp on the other end of the line and knew that she had not seen that coming.  It was the last place she probably thought I was going to be. 

“California?.... Are you going to see that guy you talked to online?”

She guessed a lot faster than I thought; truthfully, I was amazed that she even remembered. 

“Yes”.

“Did you go with a friend or something?  I can’t believe that within that short of a time you can already be on that side of the country”.

“Something like that”, that was all I was willing to tell her.  I sensed she knew it, I was always pretty vague with information on subjects I didn’t want to talk about and she knew that well.  She knew she wasn’t going to be able to get any more answers out of me, so thankfully she didn’t ask anymore.  

“Are you really ok?”

“Yeah, I’m doing pretty well.  Seriously, I’m all right.”

Silence, that awkward silence that you always hear about.  Neither of us was sure what to say. 

“Well, I should probably get going… “, I trailed off, not sure what to follow that with.

“Will you call me when you get settled?”

“Yeah, I can give you a call”.

“All right… I’ll let you go.  I love you, Ash, I always will.  The doors to my home are always open for you.”

Trust her to say something like that, but I understood her meaning behind it.  She was still willing to take me back. 

“Thank you, I love you too.  I’ll talk to you soon. Bye”.

“Bye, Ash”.  Then the call was finished.  Finally.  Not nearly as bad and long as I thought, but yet still just as emotional. 

Now, I needed to call him, but first I needed a breather, a bit of time to recuperate.  Lynnette appeared beside me and let me know an early dinner was prepared.  I went and helped them get everything ready and then sat down and had another fantastic meal.  We sat and discussed what my current plans were.  I told them I wasn’t quite sure if he still lived at his old address, but I figured I could always locate him from there.  I had his number and after dinner was going to give it a call.  If he didn’t answer, I was just going to leave him a message letting him know I was going to be around.  I knew that I needed to get a phone, maybe one of those go phone things, because otherwise I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to meet up with him without a number for him to call back.  Lynette and June told me that if he called their number back they would tell him the address that I was going to be visiting and the address for the house.  I was just silently hoping that he would be ok with this.  I was praying and crossing my fingers that he really had felt the same connection I had, I had feared for so long that it was all in my head, that all this time he was just messing around and hadn’t really taken our conversation serious, hadn’t really connected with me.All I could do was hope and wish for the best at this point. It things didn’t turn out well, I figured at least I had a place to live and possible job so I could set up a life for myself here.  The stability of that backup plan was enough to soothe my fears at the moment. 

Dinner came and went and now it was time to make that call.  I got a hold of the phone and sat down this time and dialed his number, hoping to God that it was still a working number.  It was ringing and finally came to an answering machine, when his voice came on and told the caller to leave a message.  I freaked for a split second, cause I have always sucked at leaving voice mail messages.  Beep, my turn was up.

“Hey, Cory, it’s Ashley… from Tennessee…. We used to talk online…. Anyway, I was just wanting to let you know that I’m in California and will be in the Rocklin area sometime tonight.  I was wondering if you would want to meet and hang out or something.  This isn’t my permanent number but I’ll be getting one as soon as I reach Rocklin and will give you another call then so you’ll have that number.  All right …. Well, I hope you’re doing good.  Hopefully I’ll get to talk to you later. Bye”.  And just like that it was over.  I was shivering from nerves like someone having a seizure.  I was practically sweating.  Weird, I had never been this way with any guy before, normally I was calm and collected and it was the guy who was stuttering and making a fool of themselves.  Not this time, I’d never done anything as drastic as this before and it was kind of scary.  There was so much adrenaline rushing through my system.  Now that the phone call was over, it was time to hit the road.  Only a few hours to go.

 

Part Four: The Destination

 

It felt nice finally driving myself, instead of being in that big truck… the seats in those things aren’t as comfortable as you would think.  Before I left I printed out the directions to June’s house, as well as directions from there to the address I had for him.  This was all a bit weird, now that I was alone and could really think about what I had done and was about to do… I realized it must seem kind of crazy.  Emotion can make you do the strangest of things.  I could only hope for the best at this point. 

Driving into Sacramento was a good drive, once you got past the terribly bumpy highways; it was actually a good drive.  There were orchards everywhere on the drive up… I’d never seen so many fruit trees… or trees lined up that perfectly for that matter.  Carefully, I followed the directions to the house… It was in a nice area, the neighborhood was clean and well organized and the houses were very inviting.  After a few turns, I found the house.  It was so much nicer than I was anticipating… I pulled into the driveway and just sat there in wonder.  How lucky I was to have this… at least if things didn’t work out with him, then I would be able to start a fresh new life here with a home, a job and transportation.  I felt extremely blessed.  After walking through the house, I got my stuff out and put it all in one bedroom. I knew that I needed to get one of those little track phones so that I could get in touch with Lynnette and June and to give them the number in case he called them back.  I found my way out of the neighborhood and drove to the nearest Wal-Mart and found a track phone.  Once back at the house I gave Lynnette a call to let her know I had arrived safely and to once again say thanks for everything.  They told me there hadn’t been any calls back, but if he did they would give him the number.  I figured I’d wait for awhile and just get acquainted with the city… if he didn’t call back after a couple of days I would call him again and give him my new number.  Until then I managed to get a hold of the company that Lynnette and June set me up with and we scheduled an interview for next week. 

So many thoughts rush through my head now… everything that I left behind, everything that is in front of me.  They might say that I jumped fence for greener pastures… but I didn’t really see it that way.  What I had was good; I just didn’t have the freedom that I needed.  When I think of myself over two thousand miles away from home living a completely different life, it feels crazy.  In a little over a week’s time, I had traveled the country, had my own home, a car and was in the city that he lived in.  I never thought I would be this close to him.  I used to daydream of living here and what life might be like if we were together, but never in my wildest dreams did I actually think this would happen.  I catch myself in mid-thought… it’s never good to count your eggs before they hatch.  For all I knew, he didn’t even live in this state anymore.  He could be off at a university in some other state… he could be married… highly unlikely, but in these times you never know.  I hadn’t talked to him in so long, what if I never found him?  As these thoughts raced through my head, I felt unsure for a minute, not knowing whether I was foolish in coming here, or if I was right in my reasoning.  Either way, at least I knew things would transpire one of two ways… either he and I wouldn’t forge a new friendship, or we would.  No matter what the circumstances and variables in the situation… that is what it all came down to.

A couple of days later, after familiarizing myself with the roads and the surrounding areas around the house, I decided I’d better go ahead and give him another call.  I was at the house and finally worked up the nerve to call him… Picking up the phone, a million thoughts raced through my head.  As I dialed the number, I crossed my fingers and hoped he would remember me. 

Ring…

Ring…

Ri… “Hello?...” a familiar male voice answered. 

Oh my gosh... he actually answered… as I choked up, I couldn’t help but realize that somewhere deep down I didn’t really think I’d ever get a hold of him…  

what now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Five: The Meeting....

 

 


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