Dave and Suzanne are expectant parents. Yet, Suzanne can not forget Justin.
Suzanne had now waited nine months, two weeks, and six and a half days. The baby blue sky ahead was interrupted by clouds forming a low arch. Reminding her of a formation at Arches National Park in Utah, these clouds looked forlorn, unappreciated, and harmless. Dave drove fast, yet did not go beyond the 10 mph leeway allowed by the California Highway Patrol. He did not that day, or any other day get stopped for speeding. They had agreed weeks ago that taking Rancho Drive was the preferred route.
To reach the entrance to the newly completed Interstate, they would have to backtrack almost a mile. In addition, getting through the always congested cloverleaf was like performing an intricate dance whose steps had been tentatively memorized last fall. As the black compact hybrid passed by the white fencing of Justin’s parents’ ranch on the right, she let her mind get busy thinking about anything other than the strong pressure pain wreaking havoc in her lower back at the moment. It was impossible to sit up straight. She pressed the button to move her seat to a semi-prone position and wondered why Justin held a prominent place in her mind.
They last spoke more than a year ago. Summer approached the Labor Day weekend signaling back to school. The final days at Zuma State Beach were soon to become fond memories to be revisited time and again throughout the mild winter. The bonfires on the beach burned tall into the night. Circles of friends gathered around sitting in low-slung beach chairs. Soon a guitarist would accompany the sing-alongs. Current tunes and the classics: Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and others. A few of the senior choir members harmonized to Peter, Paul, and Mary, always starting with Puff the Magic Dragon, ending with This Land is Your Land. Their voices blended beautifully well.
These get-togethers did everything to lift her spirits keeping her mind from the horrors at home. The good times sustained her through the trying ones. The last rays of warmth were hungrily absorbed. Soon, as the teeth-chattering, heart-stopping nippy ocean breezes chased the sun to dip below the western sky, the friends would begin returning to their vehicles.
Her Justin reverie was halted abruptly as Dave swerved sharply. Suzanne sat up abruptly looking out the passenger side window, relieved they were approaching Cider Mill Hill which would take them into the back end of Sommerville. The emergency room was a short mile from there. Mercifully, her labor pains had eased up a bit. Leaning back once again her mind wandered back to that last beach day.
"Justin, Justin, Justin! If only this was you driving," she silently prayed. "We would have been there already." Justin's need to speed, he told her, was equal to his need for oxygen. Justin appealed to her wild side. "When will I forget him and our own nights when we would be sitting apart from everyone, engaged in very private whispered planning our future lives at the ranch?" That is precisely what they were talking about on the last beach day and subsequent drive home the prior year.
Dave glanced over at his beautiful wife. It appeared she had dozed off. He gazed an instant too long. Looking forward once again, his eyes grew round as his mouth flew open. His scream was short-lived.