“Listen to me,” he said lifting her chin. “It's okay that you are unhappy. It's okay that you have felt unhappy your whole life. The question now, is what you are going to do to fix it? It's time you started living.”
She felt the truth of his words tug at her heart. Her whole life she had been a victim. A pawn for foster families to gain more wealth. A gold star for her adopted parents wall. Why else would they choose her at sixteen?
“Where do I start?” she asked.
He scooped her into a tight hug. “I don't know, but I'll help you, if you let me.”
The car putted down the dirt road. Dust flew into the air and into Chloe's hair. She coughed a bit but tried not to complain.
Tim looked over and smiled.
“What?” she asked.
“Oh nothing...I just think you look cute with your nose all scrunched up like that.” He reached over and squeezed her hand. She smiled and interlaced her fingers with his then looked back out the window, the hot breeze blowing against her face. “We don't have much longer, my Grandma only lives a few more miles down the road and a bit uphill. Once you see the old horse, then the tire on the oak tree, you're just about there. Keep an eye out for the big rock so we don't miss our turn.”
“Ha Ha,” she said
“What? I thought you loved southern directions,” he said with a grin.
“I only have one question. What if the old horse finally dies? What then? Everyone will just be wondering around, completely lost. And what about the tree? How old is that tree? Is it even standing? I'm just saying, try a regular street name, followed by approximate mileage!”
“I don't know what's better, your scrunched face or when you get all fired up. But you don't need to worry, that horse is never going to die. It was here when I was a kid, and I'm sure it'll still be here when I have kids. See right up here, just past that barn in the pasture.”
They slowed to a crawl, but as they past the barn the horse wasn't there.
“See! It's died, and now...”
“Nope!” Tim said victoriously. “Look.” He pointed to the old gray horse that was slowly coming around towards the fence.
Chloe slumped back in her chair. “Fine, but when it finally goes...”
“When it finally goes,” he interrupted, “we'll just pick a different landmark. Look at you all smug now," he laughed. "I don't need to be right. The need to be right is just an act of violence."
"You're going to love my Grandma, by the way," he said. "Just be prepared, she's going to hug you first and tell you that you're too skinny, and then force you to eat too much. But she makes the best sweet tea."
Chloe smiled. She had never met her own grandparents, unless you counted her adopted parents' family. But three out of the four had already passed away, and the fourth was on his way out in a nursing home. It wasn't exactly a fairytale. But when she was little she imagined her own coming to get her, upset that they didn't know she needed them. And then her new grandma would feed her apple pie at a pretty table with the sunset coming through the windows while her grandpa read the paper.
"Alright, here we are!" Tim pulled the car up the gravel driveway to a small red house with an old metal roof. Chickens milled around the yard, pecking at the grass, and an old pickup truck set parked in the garage. The front screen door came open, and a little woman with white hair stepped out onto the porch, holding a dish towel between her hands.
"Timmy!" she called. "Thank goodness, your Grandfather is working on that old beast and his eyes are just not what they used to be. I've heard more language come out of that garage than from a sailor's boat. I keep telling him to shut it or he'll ruin our chances at heaven," she said with a wink. "Would you please give him a hand? And this beautiful lady must be Chloe," she said as they got out of the car. "I'll take her inside, and you can come back in a minute."
"You good?" he asked.
"Sure," she shrugged.
They heard a large metal clank followed by slur of indistinguishable words. Tim shook his head and walked off towards the garage.
"Well, come on in! I've got an apple pie cooling and you look like you could use a piece!"
Thanks so much for sharing this with me! If you like more info about freewrites, please visit @mariannewest.
If you like to read the previous parts to this story, I have them listed below!
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