"That was my turn" the young girl said shyly as she watched the street sign blur into the distance. The blue pickup she was sitting in belonged to a stranger. One who had been so kind as to pick her up off of the side of the road a couple of miles back.
She had been hitching for almost an hour before he came along. The tall thin scruffy looking guy with the grey t-shirt and oil stained jeans.
"Huh? What?" he said absently in his distinctive drawl.
"That was the turn for my street, lakeview" She reiterated as her heart began to beat with panic, that animalistic sense of danger kicking in. "its ok you can drop me anywhere along here" she tried to sound calm.
They were whizzing down the road now and she watched as her home fell farther and farther into the distance.
Emily Santos felt her stomach wretch as she relived the memory, watching her 14 year old self being driven toward an unstoppable ordeal.
26 years of age now she was still haunted by the memories of that day, of him that pick up the street sign falling into the distance. The more horrific details seem to have been locked up in a part of her mind labelled 'not to be re-opened' and she promised to keep it that way.
"Emily to the front desk, Emily!?" That was the first sound she heard as she walked in the door of her department store job. She had just come from her umpteenth counselling session and was running late.
She didn't mind her job, it was relatively easy the one major perk being that it had very little responsibility. She was a store assistant, and this was the fourth time this month that she had been late.
"Emily?" The accusing tone of her boss Dave O'Brian he was the type of guy who thrived on other peoples misery.
"Yes Dave?" She said as she signed her name on the late list again.
"Last time Santos, last time" The scrawny man pointed a finger toward her as he walked away giving her a disgusted look.
Emily took a deep breath and carried on her way. She was comforted by the prospect of a blind date her friend Tanya had set up.
Emily was a beautiful woman, but she had a hard time trusting people any relationship she has ever had ended because of her jealousy and controlling nature.
Ever since that faithful day 12 years ago Emily built a wall around herself, a defence against people and against love. She had friends who have stuck by her side and who try in vain to find her a good woman. One who can take care of her so they don't have to, least that's what Emily thought. Her friends were loyal because they knew she was a good person.
The one thing they didn't know about Emily, and the only thing that kept her sane was her all consuming secret.
The secret that she held close for 8 years.
As soon as Emily was old enough to buy her own car, she used it as a means of therapeutic release. She would pick up every hitchhiker she met and some she went out of her way to find. Some nights when the dreams of her past haunted her most, she would drive along the highway waiting for a hitchhiker to appear. Within minutes she could tell who was a threat and who wasn't. She relied on her instincts and her weapons to keep her safe.
Any man who attempted to harm or to make advances toward her was dealt with accordingly. Sometimes she kicked them out of the car in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes she had to be more heavy handed. Either way with each hitchhiker who made advances, she could avenge her 14 year old self.