Fiction Friday: The Gut Feeling

This week I responded to a prompt from The Writing Reader. Liz’s suggested prompt was 499 Intuition and Bias. I didn’t exactly follow the rules for the fiction piece, but here’s my story about intuition.

Callie’s basketball game went to overtime. They’d be late, which meant taking the county road. Sharon began to sweat. She could have pushed her daughter to leave, but this was Callie’s last basketball game. She would graduate this year. There were signs everywhere congratulating the 1989 seniors, even in the gymnasium.

When the celebration finally wrapped up, Sharon motioned to Callie it was time to go. Her eldest daughter climbed into the stands and gave Sharon a big hug. With her face pink from running and her ponytail sideways, she begged,“Please, can I stay longer?”

Sharon regretfully shook her head. “Sweetie, it’s late. We have to take the county road to get home in time.You know I don’t like that road.”

“You say this every time and we’re perfectly fine, Mom. It’s just a road.” Callie’s face reflected her disappointment.

Sharon sighed. She hadn’t told her daughter she’d always felt something bad would happen when she drove the county road. She avoided it, but couldn’t tonight. It was the fastest way home and the babysitter needed to leave on time.

After Callie collected her gym bag, they hurried outside. It was cold, almost freezing. They ran to the car. Callie tossed her bag in the back and got in front with her mom. Her request to drive was denied. She pouted.

Ignoring the pout, Sharon started the car and said, “Call your dad. He’ll want to know about the game.”

Callie pulled the large cell phone from her big purse. “Mom, you’ve got to get with the times. Buy a cellphone.”

While she was glad Callie had the phone, Sharon didn’t want to carry that clunky thing in her purse. In addition, it wouldn’t help on the county road; cell service was nonexistent there.

Callie left her father a message and announced, “Dad’s not home, yet.” She switched on the radio and sang along with the new Madonna song, “Like a Prayer.” Sharon groaned. She didn’t think Madonna was a good example for her daughter, but she let it go.

Dark clouds hunkered down on the horizon, promising rain. Sure enough, the rain fell hard and fast just as they turned on the county road. Sharon’s stomach clinched.

Rain drummed on the roof as she concentrated on driving, keeping both hands tightly on the wheel. The wipers struggled to keep up.

“Mom, if you grip that steering wheel any harder, your fingers are going to stick to it.” Callie teased. She meant to help. Sharon said, “I’m fine, Callie. The rain makes me nervous.”

Callie sighed. “It’s not the rain; it’s the road.”

Darkness surrounded them; the road had no street lights. As they rounded a curve, their headlights lit up a car parked at an angle on the side of road. Sharon’s heart began to race.

She slowed down. The car looked empty. A shiver went up her spine; she pushed her foot on the gas pedal, wanting to get past the car. That’s when she heard the voice say, “Please stop.”

She turned to her daughter. “Did you hear that?”

Callie shook her head. “I didn’t hear anything.”

Sharon swallowed. Her mouth felt dry. She heard the words again, “Please stop.” She wanted to ignore them, but couldn’t. She slowly pulled off the road in front of the other car. Callie’s eyes flew to her face, “Why are you stopping?”

“I can’t explain it, Callie, but something’s wrong with that car. I have to check it out.”

“What? You always told me never to stop. It’s not safe.” Anxiety made Callie’s words tumble out.

“I know, but this time we’re stopping.” Sharon spoke with a certainty she didn’t feel. Callie was right. It probably wasn’t safe, but she couldn’t ignore the voice.

She forced away her fear by grabbing the flashlight from the glove compartment and her raincoat from the backseat. She told Callie to lock the doors and not open them until she returned. Then she ran through the rain to the parked car.

The window was cracked open. She shined her light inside. Not expecting anyone, she jumped when a young woman’s face appeared. Sharon yelled over the rain, “Are you okay?” The door opened. Sharon climbed in, dripping water.

A young woman holding an infant scooted over to make room. She didn’t look much older than Callie. She grabbed Sharon’s hand and said, “I’m Evie and this is Caleb. Thank you so much for stopping.”

“I don’t usually stop…” Sharon started to say, but Evie continued to talk as if she hadn’t heard her.

“I didn’t think anyone would ever stop. Caleb’s three months old. I was afraid to leave him and then the rain came. My car’s dead, even the horn. I got so desperate every time a car drew near; I’d call out, ‘Please stop.’ I knew no one could hear me, but I didn’t know what else to do.” Evie quit talking as if she’d run out of air.

Sharon leaned back. Those were the exact words she’d heard, clear as day. But she couldn’t have heard Evie, not with the windows closed, the radio on and the heavy rain. Astonished, she looked at Evie and said, “I heard you.”

Evie seemed to realize the impossibility of this and asked, “How?”

Caleb started to cry; Evie rocked him. Sharon shook her head. “I don’t know, Evie. Let’s worry about it later. I think we should get you and Caleb warm and home first. My name is Sharon, by the way.”

Evie smiled and said, “Sharon, I’m really glad you heard me.”

Sharon and Callie got Evie and Caleb safely home. They never figured out how she heard Evie’s voice that night. Maybe it was a gift from God. Whatever it was, Sharon never again felt afraid when she drove the county road. It became exactly what it was – a way to get from one place to another.

*****

This story was based on something that actually happened to me. It’s not quite the same as this story, which is why I chose fiction. However, it is close and taught me to value my own intuition.

8 comments to Fiction Friday: The Gut Feeling

  1. jean sampson says:

    Sara, this is really my kind of story! I love listening to my intuition and I love stories about people who listened in spite of it not making logical sense to follow how you “feel” (or hear!). Good job! I enjoyed this one a lot!

  2. Valerie says:

    Sara-this hit me like a ton of bricks! I was holding my breath as I read, almost afraid to go on, yet unable to not go on. The ending-well I have chills! I know other people who have had intuitive experiences like this, and it comforts me in some ways, but I find it to be unsettling too. This story was stellar today! And those bricks? That would explain what happened to that mailbox in your last post;)
    Valerie´s last blog post ..Remembering

  3. Patty says:

    Sara, I loved the foreshadowing of the dark road, the fear of something bad happening. Then the voice of intuition, and trusting it. It makes me think about how our intuition does come from a deeper, inner, shadowy place, but we can normalize it and believe in it just like at the end of the story she can say “It became exactly what it was – a way to get from one place to another.” I don’t know if you meant that as a metaphor for intuition, but I interpreted it that way and it was wonderful!
    Patty´s last blog post ..the story of 2012: your call to adventure

  4. Chris Edgar says:

    I’m glad it didn’t turn out like “The Hitcher”! Of course I was expecting a horror movie-style plot because that’s, for better or worse, what I mostly watched as a kid. I could never get into Stephen King though because of the 900-page length thing. But I digress — thanks for this story, I enjoyed it.
    Chris Edgar´s last blog post ..New Song From My Musical, “Give Her The Tour”

  5. Ginny says:

    Sara, you are such a gifted writer. I knew something was going to happen on the road but I was not sure what. I am so glad she followed her intuition. It is not always easy to do but it does so often led us to where we should go. I would love to know more about your story.
    Ginny´s last blog post ..Friday’s Special Moment of Gratitude

  6. Linda says:

    Another great story, Sara. I was afraid that something awful was going to happen on that country road. But instead it was divine intervention, and she heard the girl above all else. Very nicely done, and a great story for the Christmas season.

  7. Pea says:

    I love that this story did not go where one thinks it might. I’m glad it didn’t go the sensationalist blockbuster route! I’m also a big believer in using one’s intuition and internal wisdom and very much identified. Lovely job.
    Pea´s last blog post ..How To Eliminate Pointless Drama In Your Life

  8. Kelvin Kao says:

    Sara, you made me wish that I read faster so I could get to the end faster. :-)
    Kelvin Kao´s last blog post ..Les Miserables: International Trailer and Preview Clips

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