The plane ride wasn’t nearly as long as I had imagined it would be. Crossing over the barren landscape of the midwest made me feel as if I were going back in time, and in a way, I was. When the pilot announced that we were getting ready to land, all I could think of was how fast the last six hours had flown by (in a very literal way). Soon though, I began feeling the nervous twinges of doubt, wondering how well my memory had served me.
When I first told Mom I wanted to go back to Swallow Ridge, she looked at me like I was crazy.
“Really, Destiny, I thought I’d raised a smarter daughter than that.”
I shrugged my shoulders, knowing I wasn’t going to win any argument. That’s why I had waited for the last minute to tell her. I wouldn’t argue my point, I’d just show that I was serious. “I’m leaving in an hour.”
“Listen, child,” Mom said.
I bristled. “I’m nineteen.”
Ignoring me, Mom went on, “You don’t remember it enough. We left when you were eight. It’s a small town who’s inhabitants aren’t worth the land they live on. No one who stays there becomes anything; that’s why we left. The only thing that grows there are dandelions. Weeds.” She spat out the last two words.
But Mom was wrong. I know, because the love, warmth and joy of my childhood had grown up right along with the dandelions. And now I was going back. A huge move on my part, seeing how I’d always wished for my mother’s approval and knowing this was going to cost me all I had worked towards with her for years. But it wasn’t my fault that Mom couldn’t get along with her siblings. It was’t my fault she detested everything surrounding the town of her birth. And I wasn’t going to let it stop me now. I had too many questions, far too many.
|Just random, pretty flowers
Down at the luggage carrousel, I didn’t take me long to haul my suitcases off the belt, just as I was wondering what next, I heard someone behind me.
Turning around, I saw a petite, trim and very beautiful lady who looked like she was in her early 30’s smiling at me with sparkling blue eyes. “Miss Sparks?” She asked again.
“Um, yeah. That’s me.” This couldn’t be Katharine Reed.
“I’m Katharine Reed, but everyone calls me Kate. Welcome to Ohio.” She paused and gestured at my two suitcases. “Would you like help carrying your stuff out to my car?”
I knew right away that I’d read far too many books. You know, the ones where the liberian was either an elderly, slightly overweight lady who treated everyone like they were her grandchildren; or the tall, far too skinny and pinched looking spinster who had her hair pulled tight and wore glasses. Kate was far from either of those descriptions, but then again, she worked in a bookstore, not a library.
“That would be nice. Thank you.” I finally managed to say as I watched all my previous silly images dissipate into the air as the very real truth stood before me.
“Did you think I wasn’t really going to come?” Kate asked, leading the way out of the small airport.
“No. I’m actually a little surprised at how young you are.” I knew I must have seemed rather dazed.
“I see.” Kate laughed a little. “Maybe you were imagining my grandma, who owns the bookstore.”
We stopped at a silver Honda and opening the trunk, I stowed my stuff in it, then we climbed in the car.
“My grandma and your grandma are good friends, you know.” Kate started the engine and then rolled down her window. “Sorry, but the AC isn’t working, so unless you want to fry, you might want to put your window down, too.”
Me, sorry? No way. First of all, I can’t think of anything better than driving with the windows down, and second of all, with the windows down it would be too noisy to do much talking, so I could be alone with the many memories that were already rushing in on me.
I knew it was about a half an hour drive, and was happy I didn’t have to try and find a taxi to take me to Swallow Ridge. And I had a job all lined up. Really, I had nothing to worry about. When I first made the decision that the time had come to return to Swallow Ridge, I began searching on the Internet for possible jobs. Working in a bookstore sounded like a dream come true to me, which was why I was so excited when I saw they were in need of more help. I guess a lot of people applied for the job, but when they found out I was June Layman’s granddaughter, they hired me. And not only that, but Kate had also emailed, offering to to pick me up, because she had some errands she needed to run near the airport.
“You haven’t been back here for a while, have you?” Kate asked over the noise of the car. She guided it onto the freeway.
“No.” I didn’t elaborate. Why would I tell her I had never been back? Not that it had been my choice. I loved (make that love) Swallow Ridge. I wanted to ask if she knew of any of my cousins, but decided to wait until we were in a more quite environment.
The trees, clothed in their late summer greenness were thick along the road, and I felt a sudden pain of homesickness, wondering how I had survived for eleven years living in California. I remembered crying myself to sleep those first few months, but soon with all the changes being so complete and different from what I had been used to, my life moved on, and I was forced to go with it. Sucking in a deep breath, I smiled. Sure, the heat was a little overpowering, but it was worth it. Very worth it.
“You want me to take you to a hotel?” Kate asked me a little bit later.
“It shouldn’t take long for you to find a place to live,” Kate said. “With Swallow Ridge hosting a community collage, we get a lot of kids coming to stay.”
I nodded my head, although I didn’t really remember that tidbit from experience, only from the searching I had done on the Internet. We were on smaller county roads now, and the beauty, variety in color and diverseness in plants was amazing.
|Pictures Take By Kay Davis
So, what do you think? I’d really enjoy hearing your thoughts. =)