Because she remembered how much she loved the days she’d spent at her grandmother’s, she made the drive.
They would meet half way, but still it would be a four hour drive (return).
She packed bags and bikes and helmets into the car. She packed snacks. Apple, dried peach, cheese and a freddo frog.
‘Are they for us?’ the children asked when they saw her packing the frogs, but they would not stop for a hug.
She took no notice of the roadside markers as she drove because if it can happen once it bloody well can happen again. She flicked the windscreen wipers on then off, on then off again.
One of the children slept.
The other one said ‘are we nearly there’ and ‘what does soon mean’. He picked up his books and he asked ‘what does w.h.e.r.e. spell’ and when they played I-spy she couldn’t convince him that drink doesn’t start with g. She remembered her own mother telling her that ceiling doesn’t start with a ‘s’.
They got to the roadhouse first, so there was time to kill, and the children said ‘you said kill you said kill‘. She said to them ‘no, you can’t have an ice cream until you’ve finished your chips’ and killing time cost twenty dollars all up.
She said ‘we ate one Christmas tea here, because the car broke down,’ but the children didn’t understand.
She saw the people in the road house smile when the children called ‘Granny, Granny’ and ran to wait at the door. And nobody cared that the children squealed when their Pop turned them upside down and tickled them under their arms.
Her mother-in-law smiled at her and they hugged. She was sorry now for all the times she had scoffed when her mother-in-law said goodbye, thanks for coming, drive safely, ring me when you arrive.
They moved the things from her car to theirs (let me get that, love) and they buckled the children in.
Her little boy wiped his eyes when he said goodbye and that was something he’d never done before. She brushed his cheek with the palm of her hand. And then he looked at his Granny and smiled, and she remembered the days she had smiled that way, and that’s why she was here.
And when she drove away, out of the roadhouse and onto the road, her head thumped and her arms ached. It was Lucky Oceans on the radio and she drove all the way home at 95.