Sarah clutched her backpack and reached for the door handle. “Yeah, Jake.” She turned to look at him again. “You know, there’s a blizzard coming in. You think the bus will be able to leave?”
“Oh, yeah. Nothing will stop us, babe.”
Sarah walked into the house and to her bedroom, tossing the backpack on the floor.
“Sarah, is that you? Home from work already?”
“Yes, it’s me, Mom. I, uh, got off work early.”
Sarah had given her boss notice the previous day. He’d been surprised because, for the last year, she’d been asking for as many hours as he could give her.
Sarah’s mother leaned against the bedroom doorway. “Your dad will be home soon, I’ve got a meatloaf in the oven since that’s one of his favorites.”
“Ma, don’t call Stan my dad. And as far as dinner goes, he’ll just tell you something’s wrong with it the way he always does. You shouldn’t let him get away with insulting you.”
“Oh, honey, he doesn’t mean it when he talks that way. You know his job is stressful. We need to be understanding.”
Sarah stood up from the bed. “Come on, I’ll help you finish dinner.”
“What did you do all day, Mona? You sure didn’t spend very much time on this meatloaf.” Stan shook his head and took another bite from the fork fisted in his hand. “And you, missy, I hear you slacked off and got home from work early today. What’s up with that?”
Sarah’s dark eyes met Stan’s with an uncharacteristic glare. “We were slow today. I came home and helped Mom.”
Stan lowered his gaze first but said, “She needs a lot more help than what you can give her. Right Mona?”
Mona ducked her head and continued eating. Sarah stood, rinsed her plate, and walked upstairs.
Sarah hugged her friend close. “Thanks so much for the ride, Darla. You don’t know how much I’m going to miss you.”
“Oh, Sarah, promise me you’ll be happy.” Darla’s eyes squeezed shut as she embraced her best friend. “You and Jake get in touch once you’re settled.”
Sarah got out of the car and reached into the back seat for her suitcase and backpack. As Darla drove from the bus terminal lot, Sarah watched dark, heavy clouds circle and swoop over snow-capped mountain peaks. The impending storm made her feel a looming dread she did not understand. Sarah told herself she needed to remember what she was doing and why. The wind picked up and snatched strands of hair from the clip at the nape of her neck.
People milled around the terminal as Sarah got in line to purchase her ticket.
“Where to, miss?”
She stepped to the ticket counter. “I’m going to Los Angeles on the four o’clock. There seem to be a lot of people here today.”
The man looked up from his computer screen. “Many are leaving a day earlier than they’d planned. You know, because of the blizzard. Your bus might leave early to get ahead of the storm, so listen to the announcements.” He slid her ticket across the counter.
Sarah hauled her luggage to the nearest bench and sat. Her phone rang and Jake’s name flashed on the screen.
“Are you there yet?”
“Yes, I got to the terminal a couple of hours early because of the weather. Where are you?”
“I’m helping a friend but I’ll be there by four. Since I’m running behind, buy my ticket, will ya?”
“Four? But Jake, that’s kind of late.”
Jake hesitated, then raised his voice. “Hey, missy, I’ll be there, okay? I’m doing this for you, so don’t start nagging.”
Sarah felt anxiety prickling the back of her neck. “Sure Jake. See you then.”
She lifted her bags and walked back to the counter. “I need to buy another ticket.”
“All right. Where were you going?”
“Actually, I need to exchange the one to L.A. for one to Seattle.”
“Okay, sure. You’re just in time. That bus is loading and will be pulling out in twenty minutes.”
Sarah gave the ticket agent a smile that illuminated her pretty face.