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.