As the girls rounded the bend by the sea of oak trees onto the dirt road, Amanda opened her eyes and realized where Liz was taking her. They were headed to Amanda’s grandmother’s house. Maw Maw raised Amanda from the time she was a child. They lived far back on the plantation grounds in what used to be a servants’ house.
Amanda knew nothing of her parents, Maw Maw was all she knew and the only one who knew how to bring Amanda back around when she got in a deep funk.
“It’s coming,” Amanda said.
“What is?” asked Liz.
“You’ll see,” Amanda said as she gripped the handle above her passenger window.
Just then, the driver’s side front tire blew and Liz screamed. Liz struggled to keep the car on the road. They swerved left then right until finally the car came to a halt on the right side of the dirt road they had been driving on.
“Son of a buck,” Liz grumbled as she stood looking at the shredded front tire.
“Wait for it….,” Amanda whispered.
Just then the thunder came in out of nowhere and announced its opening act with an almost sonic boom. Both girls jumped and Liz’s eyes widened as she saw the dark clouds rolling in. It was so loud, she could all but motion to Amanda to get back in the car when the rain came down in torrents, drenching both of them in seconds.
As Liz sat wiping her face with a handkerchief, Amanda frantically searched her pockets until she felt what she was looking for.
“You ok?” Liz asked.
“Yes, just thought I had left something at home,” Amanda sighed.
“Must be important, you wanna talk about it? Is it something from Jack?” Liz asked
“No, it was a gift from Maw Maw when I was younger. Just a doll,” Amanda explained.
Amanda reached into her hoodie sweatshirt pocket and grabbed a small, tattered looking doll. It could only be explained as a doll though it didn’t have a traditional doll head. It was, as best Liz could tell, brown and cream striped material with little limbs. Its head was almost football shaped of the same material with four horns at the top. It’s mouth had a sewn on creepy grin. It had red button eyes, and a necklace made of beads. It wasn’t much bigger than Amanda’s hand but it was creepy all the same. It looked as though it had been through hell and back.
“How long have you had that nasty thing? Looks like it’s losing some stuffing on the left side there,” Liz looked at Amanda almost disgustingly.
“Had it for as long as I can remember. I’ll tell you about it another time. I just don’t want to lose it,” Amanda said.
“So…what the hell are we going to do?” Liz asked.
The rain hadn’t stopped. It was literally coming down in buckets for the past 10 minutes and the road was turning to muck. They went over different ideas in their head ranging from calling a tow truck to sleeping in the car. They decided to wait out the storm until it lightened up, then walk the rest of the way to Maw Maw’s. It was only a few more miles, no sense in wasting money on a tow.
They sat there for what seemed like hours as the rain kept coming down and the water on the road began to get deeper. When finally the storm let up to a steady rain, they decided to begin their trek.
It was no easy task. They each carried a backpack with a few things in it which was no big deal. The hardest part was the fact that each step they took, the Earth wanted to suck their shoes into the mud and keep them. It was flat land, but it felt as though they were hiking Mount Everest with the amount of work they were putting into it. When they were both completely exhausted and drenched from the rain, they finally came around another bend and saw the lights at Maw Maw’s. They both smiled. Amanda held the doll a little tighter in her pocket and they moved on.
Maw Maw was expecting the girls since Liz had called her, not only when Jack disappeared, but throughout the past 2 weeks as Amanda’s mood declined. There was a candle lit in each window to welcome the girls through the darkness. It was bad enough that it was still raining, but the ancient oak trees with their hanging moss adornments provided an even darker cover to block out any light that may be coming from the sky. Maw Maw always taught Amanda that a candle lit from a good home fire can keep away all the darkness in the world as long as she believed. Tonight, Amanda wanted to believe in warm, dry clothes and some hot food to warm her chilled bones.