Rated PG; Violence
Prompt: Start your story with a vehicles pulling over for a hitchiker.
I went hiking.
I ran into the forest for a place to escape. It gave me so much more than that. Flowers, barely poking out of the ground. Trees, regaining their foliage. Frogs and snakes going about their business. Even a sparkling waterfall that I was able to touch. It was glorious, and I had never felt closer to nature.
But now, I have to get back. and I’m lost.
I’m out of the woods, thankfully. I saw a clearing in the trees and followed it until I came to a road. By then, night had painted the sky. So, now, I stand on the side of a road in the country, only lit by the stars, the moon, and sometimes headlights, with my thumb out, hoping to convince someone to pull over.
My clothes are dirty, so that’s probably not helping my case. Not to mention it’s nighttime, so it’ll be easier for me to kill them and dump their body somewhere in a ditch, before fleeing the country and going to my criminal home in France or England or China or Mexico.
Despite the odds of me being a convict, after an hour, a car finally pulls off the road. The driver opens the passenger side door. It’s someone in their mid-30s, with wide hips and a summer dress with black and white stripes. Their hair is in a neat bun. They have blue glasses as well as big, hooped earrings.
“Hello. I’m Viola. Can I help you?”
A voice of genuine kindness. She actually sounds very happy to see me.
“Yes. Where are you going?”
Viola points at the road ahead.
“To Vrainome. I went on a little secret trip to pick up my sibling’s birthday gift.”
“I’m also going to Vrainome. Can I hitch a ride?”
“Of course.” Viola pats the passenger seat. “Hop in.”
I get into the vehicle, thanking her and pulling on my seatbelt. Once the door is closed. Viola turns onto the road with a lot of caution, looking both ways multiple times. The road is still empty, and dark beyond her headlights.
We’re off. A sign a few kilometers later says that Vrainome is an hour’s distance away.
“Of course the only good custom jeweler is a three-hour drive,” Viola says.
“Oh? What’s your sibling’s gift?”
Viola smiles. “When we were younger, my sibling’s class did this thing where you drew what you thought you’d have in twenty-five years. A house, a car, a dog, a bouncy castle, whatever. My sibling drew how they wanted these fancy necklaces for all of our family, with our last names and a picture of us as charms. It’s still stuck on my mom’s fridge.”
Viola smiles at the memory of a piece of paper with poorly drawn necklaces on it.
“So, twenty-five years later, I’m gifting them a necklace set for the whole family.”
“That’s so sweet.” Now I’m smiling at Viola’s life.
“Well, my husband was supposed to pick these up, but his dad got into an accident, so he’s been at his place, helping him recuperate. So, I had to go, because the jeweler charges more if it’s kept late, for some reason.”
Viola’s day has been one inconvenience after another. Let’s hope I’m her last.
“When’s your sibling’s birthday?” I ask.
“This Saturday.” She responds.
That’s in five days, when she probably plans on going to her sibling’s house.
“Are you going anywhere before then?”
Viola shakes her head. “Nope.”
“And your husband is still living with his dad? Isn’t that hard on your kids?”
“No children.” Viola bites her lip, considering something.
I narrow my eyes.
“That doesn’t sound true,” I say, tilting my head.
“Well, not for another eight months.”
I smile. So all is well, then.
“Wow. When did you find out?”
Viola is grinning widely.
“Well. . .today.”
“Wait. . .am I the first person you’ve told?”
Viola nods. “Yes. A hitchhiker I don’t know before the baby’s father. That’s kind of why I picked you up, believe it or not.”
What fantastic luck.
“I had to tell someone,” Viola admits. “I want to tell my husband in person, but I won’t see him until Saturday. So I saw you, and I thought it was meant to be.”
It certainly was.
We pass another sign. In time, we’re about 15 minutes away from Vrainome. I can’t wait to get there, as much as I’m enjoying Viola’s company. More than I thought I would.
“How will you do it? Tell your husband about the baby.”
Viola waves her hand. “Oh, take him to the side, whisper in his ear, tell him to keep his squee under control. It’ll be a blast.”
“I would do something more private and personal. It’s most exciting that way. I say this from experience.”
“Oh, you’re a parent?” Viola asks.
“Four children. Scattered around the globe, pursuing their passions. Meeting somewhere for a family gathering is always a mess.”
Viola chuckles. “I can imagine. But having four children? I can’t even think about it.”
I grin. “You may love your child with all your heart, but they will be the death of you.”
Viola takes a hand and pats her abdomen. “I can’t wait.”
Up ahead, I see a sign. It’s getting closer. It says, in a white font, You are now in Vrainome. population 260 00.
“Should I just pull over at the sign, or is there somewhere more specific you’d like to go?” Viola asks.
“No, pulling over here is fine.”
Viola turns onto the shoulder of the road. She shifts into park and turns to me.
“Hey, you’ve been fun to talk to.”
I smile. “Thank you. You as well.”
“Oh, and isn't it nice to know I didn’t turn out to be a murderer?” She asks.
I nod, pulling the knife from the inner pocket of my coat.
“But isn’t it too bad I did?”
I stab her, right in the heart. Blood trickles from the wound. I remove the knife, and it becomes a steady stream. Viola slumps over, gone forever.
I sigh, heaving her body into the back seat. Blood gets everywhere.
“Well, I’ll have to drop you off before heading to Mexico.”
I try my best to clean up the blood on the driver’s seat before getting in and putting my hand on the steering wheel.
“I told you that baby would be the death of you.”