Who Says You Can't Go Home Part 1

Submitted into Contest #164 in response to: Start your story with a character saying “Where I come from, …”... view prompt

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Romance Science Fiction Fiction

   “Where I come from, things aren’t always open late, so it can be difficult to get things done later in the day. Thanks for getting me in late”, I said to my hair dresser.

“Glad to help. Have a great holiday”.

“You too!”, I said on the way out.

 I was getting ready to go home for the holiday. Home, to Nashville, Tennessee, the place of my birth. My parents weren’t from there, but my mom was from White Plains outside of New York City and my dad was from Water Town. It is where I had been born, as both my mother and father moved there for college and then found jobs as professors at the local community college. They met while working at the college when my mother was engaged to someone else. My Mom was a Women’s studies professor, and my father was an English and Spanish teacher.  He had passed away when I was 37 and family was even more important to my mom than before. I had moved from Tennessee in my 38th year and took a job in the Hudson River Valley as an ESL teacher. My mother being the feminist she is, when I was born named me Leeanna, building her middle name into my name and she hyphenated my last name Colombo-O’Brien.

It was time for the Thanksgiving holiday, and my grandmother who had been living with my mother and father was slipping further into the dementia she had, so, I had decided to go back for Thanksgiving. I had never been much for the slow way of living in the south, or for the largely conservative politics. My parents felt the same way, but, had staid because they enjoyed their jobs. Not wanting to fly, I decided to use the ETO I had from work, to drive the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and see some sights and arrive Wednesday evening to my mom’s. I would drive through Shenandoah National Park and stay along the Blue Ridge Parkway in a cabin on a family run campground. I would leave Saturday and be home Sunday.

               I loved seeing my sisters, and their children for the holidays, but holidays were sad with Dad gone. I was worried about the shape I would find Grandma in. The night before my trip, I decided to get my wavy shoulder length hair dyed blue and had a manicure in which my nails matched my hair. I needed a new pair of glasses to frame my blue green eyes as well. I made a stop at the local grocery store to gather food for the road as well as the canned cranberry sauce and mandarin I would bring for Thanksgiving dinner. I packed a black backpack with mini skulls on it and New Yorker canvas bag as well as a cooler and reusable shopping bag and had everything ready to go for a 6AM wake up. My clothing was picked out for the drive, skinny stonewashed black skinny jeans, and a black t-shirt of a Star Wars movie poster in Spanish and combat boots. I had a vintage gap jacket in case I needed one. 

               I decided to call my mom before bed. “Hi Mom! I am leaving early tomorrow and should get to you by Wednesday evening. I am going to make a few stops along the way!”.

               “Great! Where are you stopping?

                 “Shenandoah national park, The Blue Ridge mountains, Gaitlinburg.”

“Sounds nice! Have a safe trip, Leeanna”, Mom said.

               “Thanks, Mom”, Love you.”

               “I love you too honey”. I fell asleep after our chat and was up at 6am. I did a quick 20-minute workout, showered and was on the road by 6:45am. I had my phone sitting in a phone rest, and charging, with music and my google maps on. My first stop was at Katz’s Deli in Manhattan for a bagel, cream cheese and lox and a coffee. I bought bagels, rye bread, kraut, and deli mustard to go for my family as there is nothing like a good NY bagel. I made sure to use the loo and was back on the road.  I would always travel with a book from my dad’s book collection, and a photo of him. I would put his photo in the passenger seat. I looked at his picture. It was of him on a birthday. “This will be a nice trip Dad”. I drove with a Spotify play list on that would be good for a scenic drive. It was a mix of punk, americana, 80’s hip hop, and some 70’s rock, along with Spanish music. I made a stop in Philly for a cheesesteak and a bathroom break. I also stopped in Washington DC for a break. When I got to Shenandoah National Park, I hit up some little stores. I got souvenir mugs for the family and one for myself. I stopped and made myself a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich. I took a walk around and enjoyed the breathtaking views. I got back into the car and headed to the family-owned campground that I had rented a cabin in overnight. I stopped along the way when approaching the campground in the Blue Ridge mountains.

               “This would be a nice trip to take with someone”, I said to my picture of Dad. “Maybe next time I make this trip I can make it with a partner.” He smiled back at me with his kind blue eyes. I made a stop at a little trading post and got some fudge and a postcard. When I got to the campground, I checked in, and then drove to my cabin. There was a fire pit outside. The cabin was modern, and clean. The décor was cute and woodsy. There was a stove and microwave, as well as an indoor bathroom and shower. I took a jog around the grounds, taking in the trails, the views, the change in season, and after a shower decided on a simple warm camping inspired dinner. I warmed up baked beans, cut up an apple flavored chicken sausage, and dumped it in the beans. I warmed a piece of bread and put apple butter on it and ate an apple. I cut into one of the boxes of fudge, a peanut butter chocolate fudge, and brought that along with a hot tea outdoors. I made a fire and sat on a camping chair that I kept in the trunk. I enjoyed the sounds of the outdoors and the air on my face, as I sipped a cup of warm tea, and enjoyed the rainbows of color in the sky that were the sunset. I went in when I started to feel chilly. I put on some flannel pajama bottoms and a hoodie. 

                               There was a text from my mom. “How is the trip?”.

                               “Great. In the mountains!”. 

                               “Enjoy. See you tomorrow!”.

                               “Love you!”.

                               “Love you too”, Mom stated. I read a book by Glenon Doyle in bed and put down the book when my eyes got heavy. I set my alarm for 7am and turned off the bedside lamp.

                               I was up in time to do a jog, shower and microwave some oatmeal. Then, it was on the road again for me. I was making good time. I stopped in Gatlinburg and stretched my legs, walking around to take in the sights. I new I was home when I passed the Drake Hotel. I decided to stop into the Blue Bird Café. I was putting off seeing my grandmother. I loved that woman, but she was a conservative, and the things that came out of her mouth were even worse now that she had no filter. There was also the asking the same question repeatedly that was sad.  I parked and grabbed a seat at the bar. The bartender was Nancy, a friend of mine.

               “You’re back! Glad to see you”.

               “Glad to see you too!”.

               “Are you back for the holiday?”. 

“I am! So, how are you?”.

“I am great”.

“Good”.

“So, what can I bring you?”.

“An NA beer, and barbeque wings please”.

“Coming up”. 

I had a slow lunch and took my time. For someone who left the South due to the slow pace, I was sure taking my Tennessee time. When I was finished eating, I sat a bit, reading my book.  When it was time to get back on the road, I said my goodbye to Nancy and paid. I was sitting at an intersection waiting to turn, the song by Bon Jovi Who Said You Can’t Go Home on the radio, and out of nowhere, a black sports car barreled into the passenger side of my Subaru. I was in shock. I first called my mom.

               “I was in an accident. I think I am fine, but I was in one. I gotta go”. Then I called 911. I felt pain and then everything went black. 

                               When I came to I was confused. I looked around. I was in a hotel room. The little glass cups on the bedside table said Howard Johnson. How was I at a Howard Johnson? I looked beside me. There was a shirtless man in jeans lying next to me sleeping. He had dark curly hair. He looked like he could possibly be Italian. His eyes fluttered open. They were greenish.

                               “Did you have a good nap?”, He smiled. Who the hec was this guy. I sat up.

                               “Why am I at a Howard Johnson?”.

                               “We are here on vacation. Remember? We wanted to explore Memphis?”.

                               “Memphis?”.  I noticed that there was a news paper on the little round orange coffee table by the door. I picked it up. November 23rd, 1973. “Is this a current newspaper?”.

                               “They dropped it off this morning”. I needed to make sure I was awake. I went to the bathroom and splashed some water on my face. The face that looked back at me was almost my own. It was like mine. It was younger, the person in the mirror had long straight dark hair and brown eyes.  It was that of my mother, but my mother when she was younger.  What was going on? What was happening? 

                               “Hey, babe?”, I called not knowing this person’s name.

                               “Yes, hon?”.

                               “How old am I again?’.

                               “You’re 21”. Oh my. My being was in the body of my mother at 21. “And how old are you?”.

                               “I’m also 21”.

                               “And, um, who are you?”.

               “Baby, I know you had a little to drink, but are you ok?”.

               “I’ll be fine. I’m sure. Something weird happened”.

               “What do you mean?”.

               “I’m hungry. Can we grab something to eat?”. I wasn’t hungry, but I figured it would be best to tell him about the weird goings on in a public place. 

                               “Sure. Want to just eat at the restaurant here?”.

                               “Sure. I was so far back in time that Howard Johnson’s still had restaurants. I was walking around in underwear. I found a pair of denim bellbottom jeans, and a KISS t-shirt on a chair with a patchwork purse. I put on my clothing and slipped my feet into a pair o white converse low tops. I tied a red bandana around my head to tie my hair back.

               “Ready?”, Tall and thin stranger asked.

               “Ready”. We took a seat at a booth. I really was back in 1973. The bell bottoms were crazy. There were so many different colors. I was at a Howard Johnson restaurant. Those were a thing of the past. A waitress took our order, and I ordered a steak and potato. Stranger ordered the same.  The food came out to us quickly.

               “So, what’s going on? What has you feeling off?”.

               “So, this is going to sound crazy. I mean crazy. Unbelievably crazy”.

               “Try me”, He said.

               “Do you believe in traveling through time and space?”.

               “I am intrigued by it”, He enthused.

               “Well. I am a 38-year-old soul stuck in the 21-year-old body of my mother. I was in a car accident, and I think I passed out, and now I am her in 1973 at a HOJO.”

               “No way. So, you are Anna’s daughter in her body, and you are from the future”.

               “Yes”.

               “Far out”.

               “You don’t think I am crazy?”

               “No. I don’t”.

               “So, what’s your name?”.

               “My name is Randy”.

               “Nice to meet you. I’m Leeanna”.

               “So, tell me, what is the future like?”.

               “Well, we have phones that are mobile. You can watch tv from them and send messages from them. You can also have pretty much any food you want delivered, through something called an app and it is also on your phone.”

               “Woah.”

               “Crazy, right?”.

               “Yeah”.

               “I am not sure how to get back to my body and time though”.

               “Well. You woke up from a nap and you were here. So maybe if you sleep again?”.

               “Good idea”.

               “We can walk around Memphis, visit another bar and then maybe you will be tired and ready for another nap or bed”.

               “Ok. We are going to do this. Let’s head to Beale Street.”

               “Ok”. We got into a red barracuda car and drove. 

               “So, you are my mom’s fiancé”.

               “Yep.”

               “My mom is totally different than I have known her to be”.

               “She doesn’t wear a bra and likes KISS”.

               “Oh. Here, do you want any of this?”. It was a joint rolled to perfection.”

               “Wow. Talk about things I was not aware of”.

               “Thanks. Don’t mind if I do”.

               We found a blues joint along Beale Street. We took a seat at the bar. No one IDed us. I wasn’t sure what to drink. The beer selection was standard, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, and Pabst. 

               “I’ll take an Old Milwaukee please, and a shot of whiskey”. 

               “That will make you tired”.

               “The other thing about the future is we have craft beer. You can have pumpkin flavored beer and chocolate flavored beer. It is way better than this Old Milwaukee swill.” We finished our drinks, and walked up and down Beale St.

               “So, what are you going to do if you are stuck here?”, Randy asked.

               “I haven’t thought of that possibility. I guess there must be some expert in these types of matters. It is the 70’s after all.”

“True. We can always go to New Orleans. I bet there is someone there to help you”.

“Yes! It is so weird. I was worrying about going home because my Grandmother has extreme dementia I was worried about what state I would find her in, but, I want to go home, and see my family, and hug my Mom and my nieces and nephew and the thought of not being able to do that, and being stuck in this stitch in time, or this alternate reality, or in this weird hole in the time space continuum is sad.

“Don’t worry. We will get you back. Maybe one day in the future I will get to meet you”.

“Maybe. That would be cool. Do you think we will remember this?”.

“I don’t know”, He said.

“Maybe this is all just a dream. Maybe I had head trauma too. Maybe this is just a very real seeming dream.”

“Does it feel like a dream?”

“No it doesn’t. If it were a dream, I wouldn’t be able to smell and taste things. When I dream, I dream in color, but I do not smell or taste things.”

“Intresting”.  

September 22, 2022 16:27

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