for Writer’s Island prompt #10 Fork in the road
I have said that someday I might actually post one of my daily journal pages here. Today is the day. Oh, and by the way, I do not write fiction. I write poetry and personal essays. There really is
More Than One Fork In This Road
And even as I say that, I can hear a story building in my head. All about a fork, dropped in the middle of the road that punctures the wheel of a car driven by a young woman who was running to get somewhere and is now pulled over at the side of a lonely country lane. Her cell phone is dead because, in her rush to get out that morning, she forgot to charge the battery.
She really doesn’t know where she is. Thought this road would actually be a shortcut to her destination, and now she’s stuck. She doesn’t want to drive on a flat tire, but isn’t sure she knows how to change the thing by herself. So, she just sits for a while, fuming and frustrated. Then remembers that she has her notebook with her and digs it out of her purse. Finds a pen and begins writing.
Writing means a lot of different things to her. She’s been doing it since she was four and learned how to shape and form the block letters that clearly state her name. It helps a lot when she has to make a choice or a decision. As she writes about the ins and outs of whatever issue she is dealing with, the writing itself, the choice of the words, helps her to get clear about how she really feels, and what she wants to do about it.
She keeps a daily journal. And then she remembers that in her earlier rush, she even forgot to do her normal page a day ritual. How could she have done that? She’s been writing a page a day for years and this morning, she’d actually forgotten. She was so eager to go to Matt’s farm, to meet his family and join in the holiday celebration, that she’d just jumped out of bed, gotten dressed, grabbed the salad she’d made from the fridge, and was out the door.
Matt had become such a good friend over the past few months. They’d met at the post office, of all things, waiting in a long line of customers, shipping parcels out to untold destinations around the world. They’d started talking and found they had some similar interests. He also liked to write, but it was definitely fiction, while she preferred poetry. It was a very long line, and by the time she’d finished sending Aunt Lucy’s book off to Portland, Matt had asked her to wait and have coffee at the shop just down the street. And, because it had been a beautiful day and she’d not had any particular plans, she’d agreed.
Ever since that day, Matt would call about once a week, and ask her to meet him at that same coffee shop, or a small Italian restaurant on the other side of town, and they’d just chat, talk about what they were currently writing about, friends and family, anything that came into their heads. She looked forward to those meetings, and was supposed to meet his family today. Finally be able to put faces to the delightful stories he told about his siblings, favorite nieces and nephews, and his father, owner of the farm, but a part-time carpenter who loved to create things from wood. Gifts he could give to those he cared about, fashioned with his own strong hands.
And now, because of her own stupid eagerness, she was going to miss all of that. She felt the sting of tears, but held them back, brought her head up as she took a deep breath, and saw a figure walking slowly down the side of the road, in her direction. Her first thought was that she’d have help to change the tire. Her second thought was that this was a total stranger and could she trust him?
Then she realized that he seemed to be searching the ground, looking for something there on the road. He had a funny floppy sort of hat on and she couldn’t really see his face, but he was tall, slim, and moved with that leisurely grace that some men are just born with. She decided to play it safe and locked all of the doors, but rolled the driver’s side window down enough to allow conversation. And waited, watching the man slowly approach, seemingly unaware of her vehicle, stopped at the side of the road.
There was something familiar about him, but she couldn’t quite think what it was. She was aware of the moment when he realized her car was there, in his path. He looked up and stopped for a moment, and she had the sense of a wild animal, a wolf perhaps, or some large feline, suddenly alert, senses tuned to whatever might be ahead. Then the wolf, or big cat smiled, grinned and swiftly moved straight for her car.
It was Matt, what a relief. She quickly got out of her car and hugged him as he stopped in front of her, smiling and asking why she’d stopped so close to his home. Was she chickening out, afraid to meet the “gang” who were definitely curious about her? She giggled and silently pointed at the front flat tire. Without another word, she got back in the car and hit the switch that would release the trunk, while Matt headed around the back of the small vehicle to retrieve the spare tire and jack. She looked into the rear view mirror, and could see through the narrow opening between the trunk and the rear end of the car, that Matt, instead of taking out the tire, was actually moving away in the other direction.
As she, once again got out, she saw him bend down and pick something out of the dirt, stand up and brandish it aloft, yelling, “I don’t believe it, I actually found it!” It was a table fork, prongs bent and flattened from the weight of her car passing over it. He put it in the pocket of his shirt and while he changed the tire, he told her how his niece, Callie, had gotten upset with something her younger brother had said to her in the backseat of the family station wagon, and in a fit of pique, had reached into the picnic basket, grabbed the fork, and tossed it out the open back window.
They laughed together about sibling rivalry, as Matt wiped his hands on a rag he found in her trunk and they both got into her car and headed for the farm just up the road. He had told her that the fork was one of a set that his Aunt Mary had gotten for a wedding present. How upset she was that her granddaughter had thrown it away and that it was not replaceable. He had offered to at least go and take a look to see if he could find it, in an effort to calm the very disturbed waters of the family gathering. Then he’d made a quip about “The Fork in The Road,” and they’d laughed together.
As she stepped on the brake, she suddenly remembered what she had been writing about in that notebook, even glanced down and looked at it lying on the floor at Matt’s feet. She had been musing about where this relationship was going, wondering about her own feelings, and if she really wanted them and the relationship to move in any particular direction. She had run over, almost missed, the real fork in the road.
Matt reached over and swept the hair from her face, saying, “Well, are you ready?” She looked at him, thought of the kind of person who would walk down a road, looking for a table utensil in order to calm troubled waters, how incredibly wonderful she’d felt when he’d spotted her and grinned, and how, without one word, he’d immediately set out to fix what was wrong. “Yes,” she said, “I do believe I’m finally ready.”