Her hands held the steering wheel as a ray of sunshine glinted off her silver bracelet, catching her eye. It was a Pandora that her kids had chipped in to buy her for Christmas a couple years ago. She looked at the book charm that her husband had added to the bracelet. There was also an apple from a former student and a little boy and girl representing her grandchildren. On a whim, for her birthday she had bought herself an airplane and suitcase charm. These were her favorite although she would never tell her family that. She realized that she usually didn’t even remember the drive to work anymore. It felt like one of her favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time. She got in her car in the morning stowing her big bag and settling her coffee in the cup holder. Then before she knew it, it would be like the road folded up and she was already pulling into the parking lot at work.
Today seemed different. What if? She thought. What if I just got off at a random exit and had an adventure instead of going into work today. She’d driven this same route for ten years, every single day, driving past all the exits she had never taken. Maybe today I’ll take exit 21, she thought and started making up stories about the cars that took exit 21. She decided that they’re probably going up to the mountains to a little cabin in the woods to sit by the fire in their pajamas, reading and drinking hot chocolate as they watch the snow fall outside. They don’t even care if there’s a storm because they don’t have to get up an hour early to shovel the drive and scrape the ice off the car windows. Or if it’s summer, she pictues those lucky exit 21 people heading to a lake to sit on the dock sipping white wine and snacking on expensive cheese and crackers. I could be those people. Maybe today’s the day. My car will veer off at the last second. To hell with exit 54. Where has exit 54 ever gotten me? Exit 21 became the stuff of dreams.
I’m doing it she decided. Exit 19, 20, 21. She steered her car off the exit, her heart beating fast. She seemed to be the only car on the road. I wonder where this will take me she thought. She followed the winding mountain road until she saw a roadblock ahead. As she got closer she could read the sign, “Road Closed”. She stopped her car, climbed out and started laughing. “Figures, “she said out loud. She plucked her coffee mug out of its holder and leaned on the hood of her car, sipping the coffee and contemplating the sign. After she took her last sip, she got back in her car, turned around and thought, well maybe tomorrow I’ll try exit 38.