The Journey: 4 (Still in Iowa)
Jeff had just turned off the freeway, guiding the bus up the off ramp and onto a county road. There was supposed to be an historical marker ahead. Summer had tidied up a little, stowing the loose things from the kids’ lesson and her own laptop was powered down and slipped into its cubby. She sat on the bench seat behind Jeff watching out the front window for the sign that would indicate they had reached the place where amazing things had once happened long before, when she saw something out of the corner of her eye.
“What was that?” she asked Jeff.
“Hmm,” he responded absently.
She turned around in her seat to look behind her and then back to the front, searching for anything that could have moved in her field of vision. “I saw something in the big mirror.”
As she watched his eyes glanced up and met hers in the reflection. “Like what?”
She blinked and shook her head. It would sound crazy if she told him. “It was probably just the sun hitting it,” she lied but even after he had looked to the front again, she couldn’t take her eyes off the wide expanse of mirrored glass above the windshield.
There was a stiff breeze so the historical part of their stop was kept necessarily short. They stood around the large sign while Jeff read the information on it in but Bren and Saige kept their noses down inside the collars of their jackets.
“I’m cold, Mom,” Saige whined. “Can’t you tell us about this stuff inside the bus?”
Back inside she heated up a family sized can of tomato soup and began slathering butter on bread to make grilled cheese sandwiches. “We can’t continue eating like this,” she said to no one in particular.
Bren picked a crunchy bit of browned cheese off the frying pan and popped it in his mouth. “Why not?”
“We’re eating the same stuff for lunch and dinner and it’s all instant or canned or carbs.”
Steaming bowls were set on the table and even though the wind was making the bus rock a little bit, it’s was cozy inside. Saige slurped noisily at her spoon before saying with a grin, “I like it.”
Summer couldn’t help but smile back but the truth was that their health would suffer if they didn’t start eating some fresh foods. She ate her sandwich standing up next to the tiny two-burner stove.
Jeff wolfed his down and stood up, stretching. “We’d better get back on the road.”
Summer looked around. The landscape was flat with dead cornfields stretching into the distance. “Why? Can’t we just stay here tonight?”
“There’s plenty of travel hours left in the day,” Jeff reminded her as he settled himself into the driver’s seat.
“But we aren’t in a hurry to go anyplace. No one will bother us here. Let’s just stay put. I can work on a painting and the kids can do their school work.”
Up until then she’d been looking at the back of his head but she noticed he was looking upwards and she couldn’t help herself. She glanced above him, above the windshield to the big mirror, and gasped. His expression was full of anger and hatred, but worse even than that, there was something else in the mirror.