The Journey Home

by Genta Sebastian

After a long wearying journey, an exhausted woman wondered if she would ever reach her destination. Hot and sticky, cramped from weeks of driving, she pulled off the road into a rest stop.  

Under a large shady tree, an elderly woman sat alone on a brightly colored blanket eating a picnic lunch. She poured a cool glass of lemonade. “Where are you headed?” she asked, offering it to the woman.

“Damned if I know, but I have to find someplace soon or go crazy!” Draining the glass, the irritable traveler was immediately refreshed and for the first time in a long time, felt a flicker of hope. “So, grandma, what are the people like in the next town up the road?” She thrust out the glass for a refill.

“Like people everywhere. What were they like where you come from, …?” asked the kindly dowager, freely pouring the stimulating drink.

“Tiffany, T-bitty.” She slammed back the lemonade. “Oh, don’t get me started, those dummies were the worst.” T-bitty grimaced and downed the second drink, tossing the dribbling glass on the blanket. “That’s why I left!” She started stretching, punching the air as she twisted back and forth. “Liars and thieves, always judging and suspicious; they called me nasty names, refused to make friends, and never let me take part in their groups. They were as hateful and untrustworthy as anybody I’ve known since high school.” She punched the air a few extra times for emphasis.

The old lady looked up at her sadly. “Oh, you poor thing. I’m afraid you’ll find the people up ahead are exactly the same.” Shaking her head, she added, “Tiffany, take my advice. Drive straight through, don’t stop anywhere, and keep on going. Those are not your kind of folks.”

“Thanks, granny,” said T-bitty, indulging in a few squats. “You saved me some time.” She touched her toes a dozen times, then ran in place for a minute, watching her digital wristwatch measure her pulse. “I’ll shove off, now. There’s gotta be someplace better up the road.”

“Gotta be,” agreed her benefactor encouragingly. “You keep looking ’til you find it.”

Waving farewell to T-bitty with one hand, the old woman sitting under the tree motioned in another weary looking woman. “Let me offer you a cup of refreshing lemonade,” she said to the stranger. “Where are you headed?”

“Haven’t found it, yet,” answered the young woman with laughing brown eyes. “Hi, I’m Amanda.”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Barbara Finley. Please, join me.”

As they shook hands, Amanda nimbly folded her long legs and sat down on the blanket. “Lemonade sounds great, thanks.”

“What haven’t you found yet, Amanda?” Barbara handed her a cup of lemonade.

“My home. I’m looking for a new one.” Amanda nodded her gratitude and took the ice-cold drink, smiling as its bright flavor hit her parched tongue. She licked her lips and her smile grew larger. “Delicious! Cooling as a summer breeze.” Her head swiveled, taking in her surroundings, lingering on flowering trees in the distance. “Tell me, what’s the town up the road like?”

“Like any other, is my guess. What was it like where you come from?” Pouring herself a lemonade, Barbara watched Amanda over the rim of her cup as she sipped.

The younger woman’s eyes shimmered with unshed tears. Her lips curled into a sad smile. “Beautiful. Between the scenery and the people, it was a magical place.” She nodded. “The folks in my hometown are salt of the earth, the best kind, you know? Everyone is interested, encouraging, they really care about each other. I’ll never find better friends – they’re my family, really. I hated to leave them but I have obligations to fulfill and a destiny to meet.”

“Ah, you delightful young woman, you’ll find the people in my hometown exactly the same!” The sage smiled expansively. Pearl white teeth gleemed in the morning light. “Give me a lift into town. I’ll introduce you to a few folks and I think you’ll soon find yourself feeling right at home.”

Two pairs of clear honest eyes sparkled with curiosity as they considered each other. “Let me help you pack up,” Amanda offered. Smiling when Barbara nodded enthusiastically, she helped the old woman stand and carried the picnic things, settling her newest friend into her car.

Her journey home was ended.

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