Leaving Little Rock Behind

Staring out the car window, Olivia continued humming along, her head pulsing to the rhythm. She and her father had cleared the city about 20 minutes before; the seemingly endless sight of buildings, row houses, strip malls, concrete and asphalt finally giving way to nothing but empty rolling hills of grass and the straight line of highway stretching out in front of them. It felt like all that crap was actually going to be left far behind.

Her father interrupted her thoughts as he consulted the map. “So it looks like we travel along this road for another hour and a half or so, then turn off on State Highway 106 north to Wallisburg Falls, and then on to Norfolk Lake.” He nodded in satisfaction as he carefully folded the thirty year old map back into place.

Olivia stole a glance at her father before returning her eyes to the road.  “You know Dad, my phone can give us step by step directions.  You don’t have to keep carrying that old thing around.”

“I’ve heard about them GPS directions.  A family nearly died of hypothermia in a snow storm cuz of those directions!”

“Daddy, you’re in Arkansas in August.  I don’t think we need to worry about blizzards.”

“My map has never let me down!  That is what we will use.”

Olivia chuckled and dropped it.  Let the old man be in control for once.  With taking care of Mama the last twenty years, she reckoned he deserved to finally do things his way for once.

Her thoughts drifted to her childhood, to the first time she knew something was wrong.  Daddy had put her to bed, cuz Mama wasn’t feeling well.  She woke up a few hours later to noise outside.  It sounded like Mama was having a party.  Surprised, she crawled out of bed to have a look out the second floor window.  Peeking through the window, her surprise turned to horror.  Mama wasn’t laughing, she was crying, and screaming, and throwing things all over the yard.  Daddy kept trying to go to her, to calm her down, but she threw things at him and slapped him and hit him.  Olivia ran and hid under her bed, clutching Mr. Timkins,  and started crying.  Sometime later, her door creaked open, and Daddy called her name.  She didn’t move, but eventually he walked over and was on his hands and knees with his head pressed against the hardwood looking at her.

“Sweetheart, why are you and Mr. Timkins sleeping under the bed?”

“M-M-Mama tried to hurt you!” A fresh round of tears started flowing free.

“Ah, sweetie come here.”  Daddy helped her out and onto the bed curled in his lap.  “Listen baby, Mama is sick, okay?  She didn’t hurt me I promise.  But I have to help her when she gets like that so she doesn’t…”

Olivia’s thoughts came back into the present as her daddy began fiddling with the radio, finally settling on a Blue Grass station.  He put his hand on Olivia’s shoulder.

“I don’t ever want to go back there, honey.”

“I know, Daddy, you won’t have to.  I’ve got it all arranged.  Mr. Bransel is handling all of the legal things, including the estate auction and the sale of the house.  He has assured me that Mama’s life insurance will be more than enough to cover the funeral expenses, attorney fees, and give us plenty to live on until the estate is completely liquidated, and he has spoken to my accountant about what we can expect so he can formulate a good plan on how to handle investing and living expenses.  Plus, you’re still getting your pension, and I can work anywhere, so we can stay at the lake as long as you want to.”

Daddy chuckled.  “We might stay at the lake for a few months, until everything is straightened out, but I certainly don’t want to stay there forever and you have your own life to lead, missy.  No, we mourn, regroup, and then we go explore the world.  Just promise we are in the same city at the same time at least twice a year, okay?”

“I promise, Daddy.” And that’s my Daddy.  Unbreakable.

Source: Wed Stories: Road Trip

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