I’ve always liked road trips. There was something about being in the car for hours on end that brings me peace. It’s just you and the road in front of you, as well as the occasional small town. Now, this road trip I’m on, only brings me anxiety. The quiet atmosphere of the crossover SUV allows the invasive thoughts in. Memories flash behind my eyes, all the reasons why I was driving as far away from my past I could get.
A friend from college had offered a safe haven for me when I sought solace in her friendship. She offered me a job as a ranch hand on her family ranch in Montana. The long drive from Detroit to the small town in the middle of absolute nowhere gave too much room for the past to creep in. I sighed and leaned my head back against the headrest. My back was starting to ache from the long hours in the car. I glanced down at my phone, the arrow on the map moving closer to my destination. I groaned when I saw that I still had three long hours before I finally reached the ranch after two days on the road. I shifted in my seat, my spine cracking as I twisted slightly. I jumped as my music was interrupted by the shrill ringing of my phone.
“Hello?” My voice was rough from a mixture of crying and not speaking.
“How far away are you?” I smiled at the familiar voice of my college friend. She was the only bright star in the dark spot of my life.
“Still have about 3 hours left so don’t get too excited.” I heard her sigh heavily into the phone.
“I haven’t seen you since graduation, you’ll have to excuse my excitement.” I laughed, the sound a welcome unfamiliarity.
“It’s a good thing you called, I was just about to drive off a bridge out of sheer boredom.” She chuckled softly.
“You and I both know there isn’t a bridge anywhere near you, not out here.” We both laughed together, easily falling back into the close friendship even after being apart for months. “I’m gonna make you a welcome dinner. Hopefully it will be ready when you get here.” I was quiet for a moment, anxiety worming it’s way through my gut.
“You didn’t tell anyone why I’m moving out here, did you?” I chewed on my lip as the line went quiet. She was the only person who knew my secret.
“I only told my brother and sister that we were getting a new ranch hand. I figured it’s up to you to tell them about yourself.” I breathe a sigh of relief.
“I honestly don’t know what I would do without you. I’m serious.” Tears welled in my eyes as love for her filled my heart. She had helped me through four years of university and now she was helping me again, through the hardest time of my life. She was a true friend, practically family.
“Joline, you helped me find my true self. If it weren’t for you I never would have had the courage to ask out Dalia.” I took a deep breath through my nose to try and stem the tears.
“You two are so abnormally cute together when are y’all getting married already?” We laughed again.
“When she pulls her head out of her ass and finally tells her parents about us.” Roma replied, her biting anger evident even over the phone.
“Patience, Roma. Your day will come.” I snorted as I thought about my own pathetic love life. “Probably sooner than mine.”
“You better stop talking like that. You are gorgeous, Joline, inside and out.” I smiled but the burden of the past few weeks weighed down on my soul.
“I’ll let you go cook dinner. I’m starving already. See you in a few hours.” She bid me a cheerful goodbye then hung up the phone, leaving me in a silent car once again. “You can only go forward, Jo.” I told myself, focusing on the empty road in front of me once again.