Today’s Flash Fiction is a continuation of the story I posted for the corn related challenge a few weeks ago. I plan on adding to this story serially (cereally?) over the coming weeks. They’ll be available on my Wattpad
page as well. Wattpad is a story sharing site and everything is free. Enjoy the story!
Jolene looked in the rear-view mirror at her daughter. The eight year old girl’s hair was done up in pigtails. It was adorable but she could see that it wouldn’t be much longer before that little girl cuteness would dissolve into a full grown beauty. She still had a few years of innocence left and Jolene intended to make the most of it.
“Nicole, we’re almost there.”
Nicole looked up from her book and smiled. “Kay, Mommy.”
The corn maze was just ahead, at least she hoped it was still a corn maze. She’d gone there when Nicole had been just a toddler. Richard thought it would be a great idea and it turned out to be one of the few times that year he was right. It had been the last time they’d had fun together as a family. The cancer took him away just six months later.
When she saw the sign advertising fresh corn she got excited. If they were still selling corn then there should still be a maze. She wasn’t a country gal by any means, but she thought the stalks would still be high and green. This whole trip had been a little last minute. She lost her job the week before and she wanted to use the time off to be with her little girl.
She flipped the blinker even though there were no cars coming in either direction. She hadn’t seen a vehicle in the last ten miles, but now this old highway was off the beaten path ever since the bypass opened up. She slowed well in advance and stopped before turning onto the drive.
When she saw the corn, tall and lush in the distance, her heart swelled. It was going to work out. The only vehicle parked by the boarded up farm stand was an old pickup truck. The joy she felt took a dangerous dip. There was a house closer to the cornfield, but it looked like it had seen better days. She pulled her little Honda to a stop beside the truck.
“You stay here, baby. Mommy is going to see if we can walk in the corn.” She got out of the car and closed the door, only after making sure that the back window was rolled down. It was a warm day and she knew that the car could heat up in a hurry. Satisfied that Nicole wasn’t going to follow her, the girl always had her nose buried in a book these days, she walked to the house and mounted the steps. They were more solid than she thought they’d be. Not a single one creaked.
The front door was screened and the interior door opened. She heard a radio on inside, some hellfire and damnation preacher going to town. Not a religious person herself, she wrinkled her nose at the strident tone. She knocked on the door and waited. Seconds crept by and finally she knocked again. “Hello. Is anyone home?”
Jolene nearly jumped out of her skin when the soft, deep voice came from behind her. She spun around with her hand to her chest. “Good Christ, you scared me.”
The young man with curly red hair frowned slightly. “My apologies for scaring you ma’am. Don’t need to take the Lord’s name in vain though.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. My name’s Jolene.” She held out a hand and took the opportunity to give the man a once over. His overalls were spotless. She could see the handle of some sort of tool sticking out from behind his back. He had a rough cloth of some sort tucked into his belt.
The frown evened out into a thin line. “Good to meet you Jolene. How can I help you today?” He didn’t offer to complete the handshake.
Eventually she dropped her hand. “I came out here a few years ago and my husband and I brought our daughter. We did the corn maze.”
The frown re-appeared on his face. It brought life to his otherwise flat eyes. “Sorry, Jolene, we don’t have the maze anymore.”
“Sh-… Shoot. That’s too bad. I was really hoping my daughter and I could have a look around.”
“Didn’t bring your husband?”
The question bothered her a little. It wasn’t like she needed a man. “He passed away a few years ago.”
“My condolences. I lost my parents not all that long ago.” He tried to smile. “I tell you what, why don’t you and your little girl have a walk in the corn rows? It’s not quite a maze, but it’s a beautiful day and I won’t charge you anything. I’ll even let you pick a few ears for free.”
She smiled. “That would be so great. I can’t thank you enough.” She tried to step around him and they did that little two step that people do when trying to avoid bumping one another. She made it to the steps and walked to the car. When she walked around to let Nicole out, she saw that the man was gone. She hadn’t heard the door open and shut. “Where did you go?”
The wind died down and all she could hear was the wine of crickets out in the field. She looked at Nicole. The girl was slumped against her seat belt. Her book had fallen to the car’s floorboard.
For a brief moment she was terribly afraid that the farmer had reached through and snapped her neck done something to her. When she saw the rise and fall of her baby’s chest, she sighed in relief.
She took her keys in hand and walked back around to the driver’s side, keeping an eye out. Subconsciously, her fingers walked the keys around the ring until she had her pepper spray ready. Her thumb flipped the little safety stud. “We’ve changed our mind. Thanks!” She didn’t know if he could hear her and didn’t care.
She got into the car and cranked the engine to life. Relieved, she hit the lock button and put the car in reverse. She looked into the rear view and saw the man right behind her. He stood inches from her rear bumper. “Moron.” She edged backwards and then threw the car into Drive and cranked the wheel hard to the right. She floored it, spitting rocks and dirt up onto her would be host. She left him in the cloud of dust and had a moment to realize that she couldn’t see his face, before having to focus on getting out onto the road. The last thing she wanted was to run into a ditch.
The Honda was two miles down the road, air conditioning bringing the car’s interior down to sub-comfortable temperatures when Nicole woke up. “Where are we going, Mommy?”
“Home, baby. Maybe we’ll get some ice cream on the way. The man back at the farm didn’t want us to stay.”
Nicole soon dozed back off and Jolene didn’t stop until she was back on the highway proper.