Must we take this trip now?” she complained, looking across the front seat of the sedan at the auburn-haired fellow behind the wheel.
“Charlene, it is New Year’s,” he reminded her. “And we have been planning it for so long…”
“I know,” she complained. “But I’m exhausted, Jim. After being on concrete floors for twelve hours…”
“She’s our sister,” he reminded her. “I really want to see her and her family.”
“But we’d only have time to say `Happy New Year’ and then turn around and come back.”
“It’s the gesture, Charlene.”
She sighed and brushed a lock of her dark blonde hair from before her hazel eyes. “Why was I fated with you as a brother?”
“Just lucky, I guess,” he grinned. “Come on, you can sleep while I drive.”
Seeing she wasn’t going to dissuade him, she suggested calling so Angie would be expecting them. Jim vetoed that idea. It was the surprise that he was looking forward to.
“Well then let’s go if we’re going,” she said, sounding a bit annoyed. “It’s already late afternoon.”
“Right-o!” he chirped. “I’ll drop you off so you can change from your nurse’s uniform and I’ll get the car serviced.”
A short time later, they were on their way. After a few minutes, Charlene fell asleep, not waking until Jim was pulling up in front of Angie’s house.
“There are no lights on,” she noted sleepily, looking at the house.
Jim looked puzzled but undeterred. “Come on,” he said, climbing from the car.
They knocked on the door but go no reply.
“If you’re came for them you might as well go on home.”
Both Jim and Charlene turned to see a neighbor standing on her lighted porch. “What?”
“They left this afternoon to go camping. They won’t be back until next week.”
Charlene didn’t have to say, “I told you so.” Her look spoke volumes. Without a word, she returned to the car and tried to get herself comfortable in the front seat. Jim climbed in, also without speaking, and started the car.
Unable to sleep again, Charlene was aware of the tedious miles. Finally, she began to doze off. But now, Jim wanted her awake. He was concerned about falling asleep himself and needed her company. Whenever he would notice her eyes close, he’d say something to wake her up. Finally, she’d had enough.
“Listen, you dumb ox! Enough, okay? Just because you have vacation days doesn’t mean I do. Since you want to drive, drive! But don’t you dare walk me up again, do you understand?”
“Yes,” he mumbled, hurt.
“Good. Now I’m going into the back seat and try to get good and comfortable.” With that, she climbed over the seat and curled up on the back seat.
She was awakened some time later by the car stopping. Raising her head enough to see that they had come into a service station, she saw that Jim had gone into the men’s room. Thinking that she might as well use the facilities too, she went into the ladies’ room.
A moment later, she heard footsteps, a car door slam, and then the squeal of tires. “No, it can’t be,” she thought to herself as she hurried to make herself present-able and then rush from the bathroom.
She stepped out into the night in time to see the red tail lights of Jim’s car speeding down the dark road. “Damn,” she sighed, drawing her sweater tighter to protect herself from the night’s chill and the thickening fog.
“What’s the matter? Did he leave you behind?”
She wheeled around and found herself face to face with the smug looking attendant of the all-night station. “Obviously,” she snapped.