If you asked me my one memory of all my road trips,
"Being crammed in the backseat with my only companion, the luggage," I would have said with a frown.
Well, that was the answer I would have given you a year ago but now, I would simply just smile at you.
WHY? Well you're about to find out.
It was the 5th of June, one of the most beautiful days I had seen this summer. The sun shone brightly up in the cloudless clear blue sky. I could hear the faint chirping of birds as they flew overhead. The golden rays of sunshine reflected the dewdrops on my bedroom window, from the rain last night, as I stared into the perfect garden that bloomed just opposite my house, the rays kissed the plants, returning their virescent hues and ushering in the new day. I catch sight of my elder sister just outside the door, both arms around her as she stared into the distance. I rushed downstairs, greeted my parents seated in the kitchen and ran outside to meet Amy, my sister.
"Wear your shoes, Renee!" mom calls after me as I wrap my arms around Amy.
"Happy Birthday!" She was finally eighteen. She smiled at me whispering her thanks and we both faced the scene in front of us.
"It's beautiful," Amy says, the warm morning breeze brushing her dark brown hair.
"Yes, it is," I replied, letting the wind push my light brown hair to my face. I stared down at my feet. I had forgotten to wear my shoes so I could feel the wet grass under my feet as I walked across the lawn, leaves brushing my ankle as I made my way across. Amy followed close behind. The ground was scattered with vivid blooms whose petals dance in the breeze.
My mom walked out of the house, her hair like my sisters' squeezed at the top her head. She was followed by my dad, his light brown hair dropped down his face. They both made their way to the car, pushing a couple of our suitcases into the back. Amy and I ran over to help them.
In case you were wondering, we were going on a road trip to celebrate my sister’s birthday. We had been planning it for a couple weeks now.
"Don't worry about this, your mom and I will handle it, you guys go and change," said my dad as he arranged the suitcases one side of the back so the other side could be for me.
Amy and I walked upstairs talking about what we were going to do during the five hour drive to Pennsville, the town hosting our favorite carnival this year. Going to the Carnival had been one of our family traditions for eight years now.
We spent the next few hours getting ready.
"Hurry up, Renee!" Amy called from the kitchen. I quickly grabbed my backpack and ran downstairs. Everyone was already in the car. I was about to make my way to my spot beside the luggage when I saw that my seat was already taken by the microwave.
"Someone's on my seat," I pointed to dad.
"I wanted you to sit with me, how else were we going to do what we planned?" my sister asked. I was stunned. My sister always sat in the passenger seat alone during road trips after her car accident two years ago, that was why I sat with the luggage. I awkwardly sat beside her and after a couple minutes we were both laughing at the stupidity of the awkward situation.
It was around nine o'clock by the time we hit the road. Mom was in possession of the GPS and was giving dad directions, Amy slept off and I stared out the window watching people carrying out their daily activities: opening their shops, buying groceries, going to work, walking their dogs or eating breakfast at the cafes as we drove by. After some time, I put on my headphones and let the music fill my ears as I stared at the world go by.
After an hour, we came around a bend surrounded by other cars, some of them shinning as if they were polished with gloss, while others were so dirty that their break lights couldn't shine through the old dirt. As the bend slowly straightened out, in the distance stood huge hills that stood there covered in a cloudy haze, and as we got closer, it seemed to stretch-out for miles. The deep green color of the mountain vegetation faded into a pale green as we drove past. We were in Brant Manor, the small town right next to Pennsville. Brant Manor was a beautiful town with meadows and fields that spread out over the large expanse of land.
We drove past lovely green meadows that grew off the side of small hills, speckled with yellows and whites. You could see people working on the fields, children laughing and playing hide-and-seek. We passed a herd of white cattle bathing in a nearby lake, the herdsmen seated in a corner under a tree. I turned towards my sister, who had woken up a couple of minutes ago. She reached out and pulled a pack of skittles from her bag.
"What game were we supposed to play first?" she asked but with her mouth full of skittles it was hard to hear her. I couldn't help but giggle at the sight of her. She looked so silly with her legs crossed and mouth full of sweets.
"Would you rather," I said, answering her question.
"Ok, would you rather go on the KILLER QUEEN or the HAUNTED MANSION?" she asked. KILLER QUEEN and the HAUNTED MANSION were the scariest rides at the carnival. I had never ridden them because you had to be sixteen and above. I turned sixteen last month so Amy and I planned on going on one of the rides together.
"The HAUNTED MANSION," I answered.
"No way, that ride is scary. I'd rather go on KILLER QUEEN," she objected and we both started arguing on which one of the rides we were going to go on.
"Guys, stop it would you. Why don't you play rock, paper, and scissors on it?" We both giggled, only mom could think of something as old fashioned as that. We did three rounds and Amy ended up winning.
"Fine but if I die, it'll be your fault," I whined, grabbing a packet of Doritos. After a couple more questions of WOULD YOU RATHER, mom, dad, Amy and I carpooled to a couple of our favorite songs.
"What kind of shoes do ninjas wear? Sneakers!"
"Dad! Stop it," Amy groaned but laughed none the less. Dad was famous for his "dry" jokes.
"Ok, hear this one. What did the shark say after he ate the clownfish? This tastes a little funny." We all rolled our eyes. We spent the rest of the trip laughing and talking.
I couldn't remember the last time all the members of my family had laughed together. It felt amazing spending time with them. We had all been so busy with our own lives after the accident that we had forgotten what it felt like to be together and at that moment nothing else mattered. I smiled to myself as I watched my mom playfully hit my dad, something they hadn't done anymore after the accident.
"What is the accident?"
That's what all of you are wondering, right?
Well, the 'accident' happened when I was fourteen and Amy was sixteen. Amy was driving me to a friends' party at night. It was the middle of winter and the road was covered with a thin layer of ice. None of us noticed a truck coming towards our car. The driver was drunk and he crashed into us. Amy and I were taken to the hospital and my sister got a couple stitches. Me, on the other hand, got injured badly and went into a coma for three months. I didn't blame Amy for what happened but that didn't stop her from blaming herself. My parents were afraid to speak of the accident and blamed themselves for letting Amy drive that night. I guess everyone blaming their selves built a wall between all of us. Mom made us all go on road trips more often and pretend like the accident never happened.
"Renee, we're here," dad said, shaking me away from that memory.
I followed everyone out. Amy was so excited; she took a selfie after every step.
"Smile!" she shouted, shoving the camera in my face.
"Hello, how can I help you?" asked a blonde lady in the ticket booth.
"Tickets for all of us, please," mom replied, throwing the lady a smile.
"Mrs. Winters." The lady handed us our tickets and Amy and I raced inside. We went on every single ride even the HAUNTED MANSION. It was five o'clock when our parents called us to get into the car but Amy said she had one more thing to do. She ran off, leaving us to wonder where she was going. After five minutes, she came to us holding a giant red and white teddy bear.
"Won it in 'toss'," she said, "for you." I was too surprised to move.
"Sorry for everything," she apologized, holding out the bear. I ran over to her and hugged her. I didn't stop the tears from running down my face. Mom and dad both joined the hug.
"I love you guys," I sobbed.
"We love you too," mom whispered. We all made our way to the car, ready to drive back home.
"Well that was some road trip down memory lane," dad joked, making all of us laugh.
"Yes it was," I whispered looking around at my family, smiling to myself.