Jill wiped the windshield of condensation. A chill buzzed across her skin. How could it be both cold and humid? She shook her head and squinted against the rain that pounded the windows.
Was that a form up ahead? Her car crept to a stop and a thrash of rain assaulted it, the sound of a thousand angry drums beating the roof. Yes. There was a person walking on the side of the road. A young girl, no coat, hair plastered to her head, arms wrapped around her body.
Jill unrolled the window. “Do you need a ride?” she yelled over the cacophony of nature’s music.
The girl bent to look inside, her pale eyes piercing. Her chin shook. She blinked, then gave a curt nod. Water sprayed across the dash as the girl got settled.
Jill bit her lip. “Are you all right?”
The girl shivered and gave another nod. “Thanks. Nasty storm.”
“You’re lucky I came by. I’m on my way home. This road doesn’t get much traffic, especially on a night like this.”
The girl pushed hair from her face. Jill’s stomach twisted. Why did this girl look familiar?
“Why are you out here?” Jill put the car in drive.
“I need to get home.” The girl suddenly looked alarmed. “My boyfriend—I don’t know where he is, he—”
“Wait, you’re boyfriend is missing? What happened?”
“I have no idea. We were on a date but our car hit a tree. I blacked out and when I woke, I was here.” The girl began to cry.
“Okay, just relax.” Jill kept her voice calm. “You’re probably in shock. Do you know where the car is?”
The girl shook her head. “No, I don’t. Jimmy—he could be hurt. Take me home, please!”
Jill held out a hand. “Relax. We’ll find him. First, let’s call the police.” She grabbed her cell. “Why don’t you—”
“You don’t understand. I need to get home!”
“Yes, but don’t you—”
“No.” The girl swallowed. “Take me home. My mom will know what to do.”
Jill dropped the phone in her purse. “Okay. Everything will be all right.” But her belly pulsed with panic. Something wasn’t right.
The girl pointed down streets and Jill turned. Minutes later they pulled down a familiar road.
“This is where I—” Jill said.
“There. That’s my house.” The girl’s finger shook.
Shards of ice stabbed along Jill’s spine as she pulled into the well-known driveway. “What did you say your boyfriend’s name was?” she whispered.
Breath stalled in Jill’s lungs. That name. She knew that name.
“Thanks for the lift. I’m home now.”
“Wait, what’s your name?” Spots danced before Jill’s eyes.
The girl jumped out, ran toward the rancher. Jill’s vision clouded with tears, her entire body shuddered. She blinked. The girl was gone.
Jimmy Kovane and Joan Chester died in a car accident ten years ago. Jill knew this.
She knew because Joan was her sister.
©Laura L. Zimmerman