The Long Road Home: The Second Day

I slept until eight in the morning, off and on, and as soon as I woke up, I started the car, let it warm up while I wiped the condensation from the window and turned on the wipers to brush away the partially frozen rain from the windshield. One of the radio stations I had found along the way claimed the temperatures would plummet to minus five in the night, and by the feel of the morning air rushing past where I had blocked the heater motor hole with material the night before, it was cold.

I wore three sweaters and wrapped my two blankets around my knees, and before long I was approaching Sault St Marie and the windows were starting to clear on their own due to the occasional sun peering from behind banks of clouds and fog. I stopped at another Husky outside the city, at almost seven hundred kilometres, and filled up while I took off a sweater. I was warm enough to snack a bit too, but I was concerned about arriving in Deep River late, so I pressed on through the warming day until I was almost hot in the car with the windows up.

Before I pulled into Deep River the GPS which I had inherited because it was too broken for my friends, finally died. I tried to revive it while I was waiting for a construction zone, but it was gone. I put it away, and instead of receiving a report on how fast I was going (for my car’s speedometer is not quite accurate and I have been going slower than I need) or how long to Noreen’s place, I resigned myself to waiting until I got there.

I packed up my bag for the trudge into Noreen’s apartment with relief, and as she had the year she had prepared chilli and bought a raspberry pie. I put the bread I hadn’t touched in the fridge, and mixed the chilli with coconut rice I had been eating plain while driving.

Noreen and I spent a pleasant evening catching up and before long it was midnight and I sent a few emails to say I had arrived, and checked the highway into Ottawa.

The following day I drove a few hours into Ottawa, and before long I was with the family again. The children had grown, especially the little one, and they were all more accustomed to me this time around. We spent time in the yard in the sun, and while the kids ran riot around us, Taisa and Luke and I caught up on the latest in our respective lives.

The following day I was woken early by the kids coming to see if I was awake, and the youngest declared as she came to wake me up that when the sun is up everyone should be awake and that no one should be sleeping while the sun is above the horizon. I spent more time with the family than I should have, for I had forgotten the problem with the heater. I was on my way to New Brunswick at three in the afternoon finally, and stopped only just before Quebec City for gas. That proved to barely suffice, for my gas was growing low despite that extra twenty dollars, when I approached the New Brunswick border.

I was aiming for the cheaper fuel of New Brunswick, and therefore I ignored the stations before the border which claimed 1.41. That nearly proved to be my undoing however, for the gas gauge was creeping lower and lower as I came to the border, and I had given up on my dream of gas in Edmunston. Now I was aiming for the Irving on the border where I usually didn’t stop because it was likely more expensive. I was now thinking that I would be lucky to make it there, or at least close enough that it wouldn’t be a long walk.

I counted off the mileage markers which descended toward the border, and finally, just as I got there, I took an exit for a gas station. It proved to be the Irving I was aiming for, now hidden behind a kilometre-long exit. I barely made it into the station, and I fancied for a moment as I shut down the engine that it coughed to death just before I turned the key.

Once I was refueled and back on the highway, I could turn my mind to arrival and away from worries about running out of gas. I had driven the tank as low as I ever had, for it took forty-one litres when I filled it, and I think the tank is only rated for forty. Likely the extra litre was the pipe and I was nearly out.

The night cooled off as I drove into New Brunswick but after playing tag with a truck on the long hills, I finally left the highway at Woodstock and drove toward my friend’s place in Millville. None of the small roads are that great this time of year, but the broken pavement of the Woodstock road was worse. There were a few signs which indicated bumps, but they were located at the only smooth spots. Other parts of the road were terribly broken up, and I began to drive slower. On one occasion, at an unmarked spot, the car went over a hump and crashed down hard into a pothole on the other side. I slowed down even more, and after another one, I was only driving sixty kilometres an hour. I was tired enough, for it was two in the morning, that I was tempted to drive faster, but the condition of the road bade me not to.

Dennis had emailed so I knew to expect the couch made up into a bed, so I brought my things into the house, and laid down for four hours of sleep before I heard him stirring to go to work. I rose with him, and checked email and informed people I had arrived, and chatted with him and his daughter before they left to work and school.

About Barry Pomeroy

I had an English teacher in high school many years ago who talked about writing as something that people do, rather than something that died with Shakespeare. I began writing soon after, maudlin poetry followed by short prose pieces, but finally, after years of academic training, I learned something about the magic of the manipulated word.
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