SEP 11, 2022


The smoke-belching rumble of the International was the only reminder that Hardin was getting distant. For Georgia, scooting over to peer into the rearview mirror for the umpteenth time, the miles behind them, were only a memory. Normally, it would have irked Stanley, her husband, to have someone piddling alongside him as he drove, but she was the exception. Their naive fairy tale meant that Georgia could have walked all over him, and he would not have minded. He loved her, plain and simple.

Across the country, they had opted for a very scenic route. The map, spread over her lap, showed her the world she was determined to see, point by point. Montana only held memories. Sure, they would visit, but not even her bones would be rested back there. That life was penurious, it had grayed her parents, who had farmed their land for a lifetime. Her determination left her pining for more, and finally, more was here.

Georgia's excitement overruled her objectivity, and they had pulled over numerous times for Stan to determine where they were, and where they were going. Their meager belongings, stuffed into two plain suitcases hidden under a tarpaulin, rhythmically rattled endlessly through Bozeman, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Ogden, Salt Lake City, St. George, Las Vegas, and finally, across the Los Angeles County line.  Stan was impressed that it had made the week-long drive, all the way to Hawthorne, but it was not without a bit of pushing, prayers and a lot of luck.

“420,” Georgia exclaimed, “there it is.”

Their rental three-bedroom sat at the mouth of a cul-de-sac. As he pulled over to the curb, Georgia was already reaching for the door handle, eager to jump out. Stan quickly held her back and held her hand gently. He looked at her. She understood. This was their 'leap of faith' moment. His smarts, dexterity, naturally connected to her determination, constantly encouraging him, had propelled them to this city. Her look assured him, though she needed him to let go of her hand, so that she could burst into the California sun. To her surprise, despite his eagerness for adventure, she failed to recognize how big a deal this was for him.

“Easy Stan,” she softly cooed, “we have come this far together.”

She softly rubbed his hands and he instinctively felt better. She was his rock. Stan knew, with Georgia, he could be master of their world.

As she stepped out, the stuffy sun-warmed breeze embraced her. Her breath involuntarily escaped her. Stan hopped out, taking her hand, as they walked up towards their new house. The balmy air, the exhilaration, it all caused Georgia's arms to layer in goosebumps. Georgia, her will breaking, run ahead and hopped onto the porch. Stan walked past, heading to their new neighbor's house, where his employer had assured him the house keys would be left. Barely half a minute had passed when he walked past again, clutching an envelope, going to fetch their suitcases. Her heavy one first, then his lighter one.

“How on earth did she manage to get so much into hers?”

Stan, on the porch, standing next to her, tried the first key, but the lock would not budge. He tried the second one and slowly, the lock let loose. Apprehensively, he opened and peered into their new life. Stan was slightly taken aback, by 'California living'. The spartan living room he walked into bore minimal furniture. He tried to take it in, the 'cookie cutter' house whose deposit had consumed a large portion of his scanty savings.

Georgia was still standing on the porch. He walked out, and heaved her suitcase in, then his.

“Ahem,” her amplified throat cleaning from behind got his attention. Confused, he eyed her.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” he asked.

With a furrowed brow, she was slowly twiddling her wedding ring, playfully rolling her eyes at the door frame.

“Right,” he realized, as he reached out for her, lifting her petite frame, and manoeuvring her over the threshold.

“Welcome home, Mrs Norton.”

She smiled and gave him a light kiss.

“Why thank you, Mr Norton.”

She kissed him again, and again, softer each time, dabbing his lips with her deep red lipstick. In his arms, she was content.

“You can put me down, Stan”.

Breathless from her kisses, having long forgotten he was holding her up, he wafted into a new daydream. They were home. Everything was as it should be.