My husband and I drove the roads of rural Washington, meandering past rose gardens and long grass that bent beneath the sun. The Cascades rose in the distance, casting shadows over the valley. I lay my head back, imagining the highway as an old dusty road, carrying families to church, and the local general store. Now it was busy, two lanes of noisy trucks and cars, their intoxicating smells drowning out an otherwise quiet community.
In the distance, I saw a fruit stand. “Can we stop?” I asked.
“Of course,” Randy replied.
As we waited to turn, Randy tapped his wedding ring against the steering wheel to a made-up of ‘life is good.’ He looked over and smiled his large crooked grin, the same grin I had fallen in love with twenty-seven years before.
“I’m glad we took this vacation,” he said.
I was reaching for the water bottle sitting between us, when I heard a noise and stopped.
“What is that?” I asked, feeling a shudder run through my spine.
“I don’t know,” replied Randy.
It stopped briefly, but began again. Louder. Closer. Stronger.
A squeal. A screech. A noise that ripped through the air, tore through my body, arched my back into one solid mass of muscle.
“Where is it coming from?” I asked as I gripped the dashboard.
“I’m not sure,” answered Randy.
Randy’s fingers were wrapped tight around the steering wheel, every knuckle so tight, I thought they’d explode. Our eyes met, and for the first time in our marriage, I saw something I’d never seen. I saw fear. Then I knew, that noise was meant for us.
I whispered one quick prayer before my world went black.