Author Topic: Finding Home  (Read 324 times)

Offline Carladet

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Finding Home
« on: February 04, 2022, 05:33:34 PM »
“Nooo!” Rayda screamed and bolted upright. Not again. Please. Not again. The nightmares were wearing her down. Every night, for weeks, she woke to the same horrible dream. Who could she tell? Her sister? That wasn’t gonna happen. Laura would drag her to one of her wacko California psychotherapists, or analysts, or whatever it was she called them. No. That was not happening. She’d had horrible dreams before and managed to survive them. If she told her husband, he’d blame them on stress and insist she return home. That wasn’t possible. Not yet. There was too much to do. The bad dreams were simply a result of the ordeal she’d been through the past month. She’d suffer through them for another few days, go home, and they would disappear.
***
Rayda snapped the laptop closed. How could it possibly cost so much more to land in Tallahassee than it did to fly to Atlanta, rent a car, and drive home? Buying round-trip tickets hadn’t been possible since she had no idea when she’d be able to return. Rayda grabbed her phone from her purse and called her husband. “I booked a flight. I’ll be driving in from Atlanta tomorrow evening. No way I’m paying hundreds of dollars more for a five-hour drive.”
“To hell with the money. Fly in. We haven’t seen you in weeks.”
Rayda laughed. “I’m glad you’ve missed me.” She spoke softly. “I’ve missed you, too.” She shook her head. “Anyway, with the layover, I’ll probably be home before the plane lands. How’s Tyler?”
“He misses you, but he’s fine. I’d put him on, but he’s already asleep.”
“Well, give him a kiss for me in the morning and tell him I’ll see him soon.”
“So, you have everything settled?”
“Pretty much. Sis and I divided what we wanted and donated the rest. The painters are finishing up, and the house will be on the market next week.” A smile crossed Rayda’s face. “I have a surprise for you. Remember Dad’s old guns?”
“Heck, yeah!”
“Well, Mom still had them and a butt load of ammo. I just love his old pistols. I bought a gun case, and they’ll be coming home with me. I didn’t want anything else. Well, except for some photos and a few old Christmas ornaments.” Rayda met silence. “Are you still there?”
“Yeah. Yeah.”
“Don’t get all corny, Roland. You know Laura and her husband hate guns. Besides, Dad would have wanted us to have them.”
“I know. I just wish I’d made it there before your mom passed away.”
“Honey, the doctors were sure she’d be okay after the by-pass. No one saw the stroke coming.” Rayda paused and wiped her damp eyes. “You knew Mom almost as long as I did. Do you think she’d have wanted to live that way? Paralyzed and on a breathing and feeding tube? Unable to respond or speak again.” She pinched her nose.
“No. But I still feel guilty.”
Rayda could feel her husband’s tears even though she couldn’t see them. In third grade, they had met each other when Rayda’s mom had been his teacher. She’d tutored him several times a week, and Rayda and Roland had been best friends ever since.
“Like I told you at her funeral, I wish I’d had the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me.”
“Roland. She knew. She knew.” Rayda took a deep breath. “I love you, and I hate to cut our conversation short, but I need a shower and some sleep. I’m totally drained.” She let out a deep sigh. “I can’t wait to hold you and Tyler again.”
“I love you, too. We’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Rayda put the phone on the nightstand in her hotel room and shook her head. A foggy heaviness enveloped her. She placed a hand on her chest to quell her racing heart. She felt nauseous. Stress. Stress was causing her heart to beat out of control and making her queasy.
After she’d showered, Rayda sat on the bed and turned on the radio. Creedence Clearwater Revival. She fell back on the pillow, and a tear slid from her eye. She and her mom loved CCR. She listened as they sang Someday Never Comes. Rayda curled into a ball and cried herself to sleep.
***
The next morning, Rayda met her sister for breakfast before checking on their mom’s house and driving to the airport.
“The painters said they’d be finished today,” Laura said.
“That’s good. It’s going to be painful to say goodbye for the last time.”
Laura took her sister’s hand. “As much as I would have loved you staying with me, I’m glad you stayed at Mom’s.”
Rayda’s eye dampened. “I’ve never been surrounded by so many memories. Speaking of memories, are you sure you don’t mind sending me copies of the photos?”
“Of course not.”
Rayda nodded. “Thank you, again, for making the album so I could take a few with me.”
“Don’t thank me,” she chuckled. “Thank the copy shop. All I did was stick them in the pages.”
Rayda noticed Laura’s look of concern. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
Laura shook her head. “I hope so. You seem awfully uneasy.”
Rayda rested her elbow on the table and massaged her forehead. “I didn’t sleep well. I guess it’s because I’m going home, and I don’t know when I’ll see you again. And then there’s saying goodbye to our childhood home.”
Laura took her hand again. “We’ll stay in touch. Let’s make a pact. I visit you at least once a year, and you do the same. And we can do facetime like you did with Roland and Tyler.”
Rayda grinned and squeezed her sister’s hand. “Deal.” While Rayda was smiling, she couldn’t help but feel things would never be the same.
***
Rayda loaded the rental car at the Atlanta airport and slid behind the steering wheel of the SUV. She didn’t feel right. Her stomach churned, sweat broke out on her brow, and her hands shook. She’d been having this problem for weeks, and living off Pepto Bismol was getting old. As soon as she got home, she’d make a doctor’s appointment. She opened her purse, tapped a couple of pink tablets into her palm, and tossed them into her mouth. After she’d guzzled half a bottle of water, she turned the ignition and made her way home.
Once the nausea passed, she called her husband. “Hey. I’ll be home in about five hours. I decided to drive in on I-75.”
“I can’t wait to see you. Are you turning in the rental first?”
“No. I figured we’d do that in the morning.”
“Well, I hope you’re not planning on an early morning run to Hertz. I have a feeling we may be sleeping in.”
His boyish laughter caused Rayda’s face to burst into a huge grin. God, how she loved him. How she missed him and Tyler.
“I know,” she said coyly and sighed. “I may be exhausted.”
Roland chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’ll wake you up!”
Rayda smiled as she slipped the phone into the holder. A month. She’d been away for an entire month. If Roland hadn’t kept the bird feeders full and watered her garden, she’d... Rayda’s thoughts paused. If he hadn’t, she’d say nothing. All she wanted was to hold him and Tyler again. To be home.
***
Rayda’s phone rang, and she smiled. Roland was going to drive her crazy with his checking in. But that was fine with her.
“Hellooo!” She chuckled.
“Where are you?” Roland’s voice sounded husky.
She chuckled again. “Barely out of Atlanta.”
“Where?” he asked a little too loud.
Rayda flinched. “Geeze, let me look.” She checked the navigator. “I’m just outside Stockbridge, Georgia.”
“Pull over.”
Her brow pinched, and her lips twisted. “I don’t want to pull over and chat, Roland. I’m capable of talking and driving. I’m freaking trying to get home!”
“Rayda, pull off the interstate now! We need to talk.”
What the hell? Rayda’s body began to shake as she parked on the side of I-75.
“Roland. What’s wrong?”
“There’s a Walmart in Stockbridge. Put it in the navigator and go there! Take the cash limit from the ATM and use our cards to buy all the non-perishable items you can. And a map! Don’t forget the map!”
Rayda laughed. “So, you want me to go shopping before I come home? What did you do? Eat all of our food storage while I was gone?”
“Listen to me, Rayda. Buy a large backpack and camping gear. Think of everything we use to camp. Tents, sleeping bags, cookware, matches and lighters, a shovel, ax, and saw. A compass. And don’t forget a damned can opener and knife! And get a can of that stuff to fix flat tires. And a radio—preferably a wind-up.”
“What’s going on? You sound like you’ve lost our mind!”
“Pay attention! Buy as much as you can fit in the SUV. And gallons of water. For God’s sake, don’t forget the water! And a water filter.”
Rayda screamed into the phone. “Roland! What the hell is going on?”
He was quiet for a second. “I pray they’re wrong. The entire west coast has lost power. Folks on the HAM radio say it may be an EMP and that the rest of the country needs to prepare, just in case. Preston Scott is on the radio. He says he’ll be broadcasting as long as he can to keep us up to date.”
The phone slid from her hand. After a moment, she picked it up. “What do I do? How do I get home if it’s true and hits us?”
“Rayda, we don’t really know how this works. Just buy what I told you and head home. Keep the radio on. Find a side road, and get off the interstate if it starts sounding weird! It won’t be safe if it’s an EMP. Call me every few minutes! I’ll find you!”
Rayda sat and said nothing.
“Move, Rayda! Damn it! Move!”
“Headed to Walmart,” she said softly.

Offline Tygered

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Re: Finding Home
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2022, 12:15:47 PM »
I’m new here and just posted my first five. I saw that you have no replies to your FF. I just thought if you post, then you should get at least 1 reply. Over-all I like the tension build up. Here’s a few other comments. 

“Nooo!” Rayda screamed and bolted upright. Not again. Please. Not again. The nightmares were wearing her down. Every night, for weeks, she woke to the same horrible dream. Who could she tell? Her sister? That wasn’t gonna happen. Laura would drag her to one of her wacko California psychotherapists, or analysts, or whatever it was she called them. No. That was not happening. She’d had horrible dreams before and managed to survive them. If she told her husband, he’d blame them on stress and insist she return home. That wasn’t possible. Not yet. There was too much to do. The bad dreams were simply a result of the ordeal she’d been through the past month. She’d suffer through them for another few days, go home, and they would disappear.

I assume the character is in California and has nightmares. Cali is a big state. Personally, I’d like to know where in Cali.
***
Rayda snapped the laptop closed. How could it possibly cost so much more to land in Tallahassee than it did to fly to Atlanta, rent a car, and drive home? Buying round-trip tickets hadn’t been possible since she had no idea when she’d be able to return. Rayda grabbed her phone from her purse and called her husband. “I booked a flight. I’ll be driving in from Atlanta tomorrow evening. No way I’m paying hundreds of dollars more for a five-hour drive.”
“To hell with the money. Fly in. We haven’t seen you in weeks.”
Rayda laughed. “I’m glad you’ve missed me.” She spoke softly. “I’ve missed you, too.” She shook her head. “Anyway, with the layover, I’ll probably be home before the plane lands. How’s Tyler?”

Not quite sure how that will work. Is this layover between Atlanta and Tallahassee? Even so how fast does she drive? I’m wondering is it important to the story to set up this 5 hour drive home? I read on to find out.

“He misses you, but he’s fine. I’d put him on, but he’s already asleep.”
“Well, give him a kiss for me in the morning and tell him I’ll see him soon.”

Is Tyler like 7, a teenager, or home from college. Personally, I like to start developing a picture of Tyler and the whole family. Maybe a line or two where it can be fit in, such as did she just miss his Spelling Bee, or concert recital. Apparently, Rayda’s been gone for weeks.

“So, you have everything settled?”
“Pretty much. Sis and I divided what we wanted and donated the rest. The painters are finishing up, and the house will be on the market next week.” A smile crossed Rayda’s face. “I have a surprise for you. Remember Dad’s old guns?”
“Heck, yeah!”
“Well, Mom still had them and a butt load of ammo. I just love his old pistols. I bought a gun case, and they’ll be coming home with me.

Hopefully, the gun case is in cargo hold. I still wonder if that’s possible these days of heightened security. She might have to have them shipped home via UPS or whoever. I do hope we see Dad’s old guns get used. Otherwise, why mention them?

I didn’t want anything else. Well, except for some photos and a few old Christmas ornaments.” Rayda met silence. “Are you still there?”
“Yeah. Yeah.”
“Don’t get all corny, Roland. You know Laura and her husband hate guns. Besides, Dad would have wanted us to have them.”
“I know. I just wish I’d made it there before your mom passed away.”
“Honey, the doctors were sure she’d be okay after the by-pass. No one saw the stroke coming.” Rayda paused and wiped her damp eyes. “You knew Mom almost as long as I did. Do you think she’d have wanted to live that way? Paralyzed and on a breathing and feeding tube? Unable to respond or speak again.” She pinched her nose.
“No. But I still feel guilty.”
Rayda could feel her husband’s tears even though she couldn’t see them. In third grade, they had met each other when Rayda’s mom had been his teacher. She’d tutored him several times a week, and Rayda and Roland had been best friends ever since.
“Like I told you at her funeral, I wish I’d had the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me.”
“Roland. She knew. She knew.” Rayda took a deep breath. “I love you, and I hate to cut our conversation short, but I need a shower and some sleep. I’m totally drained.” She let out a deep sigh. “I can’t wait to hold you and Tyler again.”
“I love you, too. We’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Rayda put the phone on the nightstand in her hotel room and shook her head. A foggy heaviness enveloped her. She placed a hand on her chest to quell her racing heart. She felt nauseous. Stress. Stress was causing her heart to beat out of control and making her queasy.

I’m not seeing a reason for high stress. After all, she’s going home tomorrow. Funeral is behind her. House is painted (presumably for sale) Is this related to the recurring nightmares?

After she’d showered, Rayda sat on the bed and turned on the radio. Creedence Clearwater Revival. She fell back on the pillow, and a tear slid from her eye. She and her mom loved CCR. She listened as they sang Someday Never Comes. Rayda curled into a ball and cried herself to sleep.
CCR will definitely calm the nerves.
***
The next morning, Rayda met her sister for breakfast before checking on their mom’s house and driving to the airport.
“The painters said they’d be finished today,” Laura said.
“That’s good. It’s going to be painful to say goodbye for the last time.”
Laura took her sister’s hand. “As much as I would have loved you staying with me, I’m glad you stayed at Mom’s.”
Rayda’s eye dampened. “I’ve never been surrounded by so many memories. Speaking of memories, are you sure you don’t mind sending me copies of the photos?”
“Of course not.”
Rayda nodded. “Thank you, again, for making the album so I could take a few with me.”
“Don’t thank me,” she chuckled. “Thank the copy shop. All I did was stick them in the pages.”

Copy shop seems old school. Doesn’t she have a scanner and printer?

Rayda noticed Laura’s look of concern. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
Laura shook her head. “I hope so. You seem awfully uneasy.”
Rayda rested her elbow on the table and massaged her forehead. “I didn’t sleep well. I guess it’s because I’m going home, and I don’t know when I’ll see you again. And then there’s saying goodbye to our childhood home.”

I can understand the childhood home being lost to the family, but your line about being upset is because she’s going home seems to me to indicate that’s what’s bothering her.

Laura took her hand again. “We’ll stay in touch. Let’s make a pact. I visit you at least once a year, and you do the same. And we can do facetime like you did with Roland and Tyler.”
Rayda grinned and squeezed her sister’s hand. “Deal.” While Rayda was smiling, she couldn’t help but feel things would never be the same.

Good foreshadow.
***
Rayda loaded the rental car at the Atlanta airport and slid behind the steering wheel of the SUV. She didn’t feel right. Her stomach churned, sweat broke out on her brow, and her hands shook. She’d been having this problem for weeks, and living off Pepto Bismol was getting old. As soon as she got home, she’d make a doctor’s appointment. She opened her purse, tapped a couple of pink tablets into her palm, and tossed them into her mouth. After she’d guzzled half a bottle of water, she turned the ignition and made her way home.

“Made her way home” indicates, she’s now home. Perhaps, say made her way out of the Hertz lot. Would she (1 person) really rent an SUV? I guess the gun case is large. Reading ahead, I see you need an SUV to stock up on survivor gear, but she doesn’t know this at this point. Seems like a great coincidence for her.

Once the nausea passed, she called her husband. “Hey. I’ll be home in about five hours. I decided to drive in on I-75.”
“I can’t wait to see you. Are you turning in the rental first?”
“No. I figured we’d do that in the morning.”
“Well, I hope you’re not planning on an early morning run to Hertz. I have a feeling we may be sleeping in.”
His boyish laughter caused Rayda’s face to burst into a huge grin. God, how she loved him. How she missed him and Tyler.
“I know,” she said coyly and sighed. “I may be exhausted.”
Roland chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’ll wake you up!”
Rayda smiled as she slipped the phone into the holder. A month. She’d been away for an entire month. If Roland hadn’t kept the bird feeders full and watered her garden, she’d... Rayda’s thoughts paused. If he hadn’t, she’d say nothing. All she wanted was to hold him and Tyler again. To be home.

Again, I’m wondering why this five-hour drive. Lots of words devoted to setting this up. Personally, I’d like a time frame here. Is it daytime, early evening, late? When?

***
Rayda’s phone rang, and she smiled. Roland was going to drive her crazy with his checking in. But that was fine with her.
“Hellooo!” She chuckled.
“Where are you?” Roland’s voice sounded husky.
She chuckled again. “Barely out of Atlanta.”
“Where?” he asked a little too loud.
Rayda flinched. “Geeze, let me look.” She checked the navigator. “I’m just outside Stockbridge, Georgia.”
“Pull over.”
Her brow pinched, and her lips twisted. “I don’t want to pull over and chat, Roland. I’m capable of talking and driving. I’m freaking trying to get home!”
“Rayda, pull off the interstate now! We need to talk.”
What the hell? Rayda’s body began to shake as she parked on the side of I-75.
“Roland. What’s wrong?”
“There’s a Walmart in Stockbridge. Put it in the navigator and go there! Take the cash limit from the ATM and use our cards to buy all the non-perishable items you can. And a map! Don’t forget the map!”
Rayda laughed. “So, you want me to go shopping before I come home? What did you do? Eat all of our food storage while I was gone?”
“Listen to me, Rayda. Buy a large backpack and camping gear. Think of everything we use to camp. Tents, sleeping bags, cookware, matches and lighters, a shovel, ax, and saw. A compass. And don’t forget a damned can opener and knife! And get a can of that stuff to fix flat tires. And a radio—preferably a wind-up.”
“What’s going on? You sound like you’ve lost our mind!”
“Pay attention! Buy as much as you can fit in the SUV. And gallons of water. For God’s sake, don’t forget the water! And a water filter.”

So, what’s he going to be doing? He knows all the things to get, but why can’t he do it? If some impending disaster was about to happen, I’d want my wife to get home, not be stuck 5 hours away. Maybe if Tyler is a baby and its late night, he might not want to take him shopping. But if all hell is going to break loose, I’d bundle the kid up and go to Walmart. Personally, I’d go to a survivalist or army surplus store for this kind of equipment.

Rayda screamed into the phone. “Roland! What the hell is going on?”
He was quiet for a second. “I pray they’re wrong. The entire west coast has lost power. Folks on the HAM radio say it may be an EMP and that the rest of the country needs to prepare, just in case. Preston Scott is on the radio. He says he’ll be broadcasting as long as he can to keep us up to date.”

Who is Preston Scott? I did some research on EMPs. They come from Nuclear bombs or the sun. They are momentary and those from a bomb affect a relatively small area. A CME might take out all of Cali. I also wonder why he gets this news from a HAM operator. Cell phones from outside the blast radius will work. Any electronics that move in afterward will work just fine. Most large-scale installations like power stations are impervious to the nuke form. Of course, a nuke implies other damaging effects. Personally, I’d make it a solar EMP. Why doesn’t she get the news from the radio or cell phone? My phone sends me news flashes all day long.

The phone slid from her hand. After a moment, she picked it up. “What do I do? How do I get home if it’s true and hits us?”
“Rayda, we don’t really know how this works. Just buy what I told you and head home. Keep the radio on. Find a side road, and get off the interstate if it starts sounding weird! It won’t be safe if it’s an EMP. Call me every few minutes! I’ll find you!”
Rayda sat and said nothing.
“Move, Rayda! Damn it! Move!”
“Headed to Walmart,” she said softly.

Again, what time of day or night is this? Walmarts in KCMO tend to close between 9PM and 11PM
Bottom line, good start. I would read more. I hope to be helpful, but if my comments don’t make sense, just ignore them.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2022, 09:03:45 AM by Tygered »

Offline Jub666

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Re: Finding Home
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2022, 06:44:12 AM »
Hi Carladet

I have made some notes and added some questions. Please feel free to disregard - I'm no expert!

Jx


“Nooo!” Rayda screamed, (comma) and bolted upright. Not again. Please. Not again. The nightmares were wearing her down. Every night, for weeks, she woke to the same horrible dream. Who could she tell? Her sister? That wasn’t gonna happen. Laura would drag her to one of her wacko California psychotherapists, or analysts, or whatever it was she called them. No. That was not happening. She’d had horrible dreams before and managed to survive them. If she told her husband, he’d blame them on stress and insist she return home. That wasn’t possible. Not yet. There was too much to do. The bad dreams were simply a result of the ordeal she’d been through the past month. She’d suffer through them for another few days, go home, and they would disappear.

I have been advised by several people on this forum that it's a cliché to begin a book with the character waking up. I have re-written my own recently to start at a later point. I think your story would be stronger starting here:

***
Rayda snapped the laptop closed. How could it possibly cost so much more to land in Tallahassee than it did to fly to Atlanta, rent a car, and drive home? Buying round-trip tickets hadn’t been possible since she had no idea when she’d be able to return. Rayda grabbed her phone from her purse and called her husband. “I booked a flight. I’ll be driving in from Atlanta tomorrow evening. No way I’m paying hundreds of dollars more for a five-hour drive.” - This sounds like she's actually paying hundreds of dollars for the drive.
“To hell with the money. Fly in. We haven’t seen you in weeks.”
Rayda laughed. “I’m glad you’ve missed me.” (Perhaps you could mention his name here) She spoke softly. “I’ve missed you, too.” She shook her head. “Anyway, with the layover, I’ll probably be home before the plane lands. How’s Tyler?”
“He misses you, but he’s fine. I’d put him on, but he’s already asleep.”
“Well, give him a kiss for me in the morning and tell him I’ll see him soon.”
“So, you have everything settled?”
“Pretty much. Sis (could you use her name? I wasn't sure what you meant when I first read it) and I divided what we wanted and donated the rest. The painters are finishing up, and the house will be on the market next week.” A smile crossed Rayda’s face. “I have a surprise for you. Remember Dad’s old guns?”
“Heck, yeah!”
“Well, Mom still had them and a butt load of ammo. I just love his old pistols. I bought a gun case, and they’ll be coming home with me. I didn’t want anything else. Well, except for some photos and a few old Christmas ornaments.” Rayda met silence. “Are you still there?”
“Yeah. Yeah.”
“Don’t get all corny, Roland. You know Laura and her husband I'm sure she would name him here - rather than saying 'and her husband' hate guns. Besides, Dad would have wanted us to have them.”
“I know. I just wish I’d made it there before your mom passed away.” Could you mention here that she was the best teacher he ever had or something - then you don't need that bit below which breaks the conversation flow. ***
“Honey, the doctors were sure she’d be okay after the by-pass. No one saw the stroke coming.” Rayda paused and wiped her damp eyes. “You knew Mom almost as long as I did. Do you think she’d have wanted to live that way? Paralyzed and on a breathing and feeding tube? Unable to respond or speak again.” She pinched her nose.
“No. But I still feel guilty.”
Rayda could feel her husband’s tears even though she couldn’t see them. In third grade, they had met each other when Rayda’s mom had been his teacher. She’d tutored him several times a week, and ]Rayda and Roland had been best friends ever since. *** - Is it important to the story that they met this way and that her Mum had been his teacher? It breaks up the flow. We're in the middle of a conversation. You could perhaps change this to a thought from Rayda - something along the lines of her feeling a rush of love for him, for caring so much about her Mum.
“Like I told you at her funeral, I wish I’d had the opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me.”
“Roland. She knew. She knew.” Rayda took a deep breath. “I love you, and I hate to cut our conversation short, but I need a shower and some sleep. I’m totally drained.” She let out a deep sigh. “I can’t wait to hold you and Tyler again.”
“I love you, too. We’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Rayda put the phone on the nightstand in her hotel room and shook her head. A foggy heaviness enveloped her. She placed a hand on her chest to quell her racing heart. She felt nauseous. Stress. Stress was causing her heart to beat out of control and making her queasy.
After she’d showered, Rayda sat on the bed and turned on the radio. Creedence Clearwater Revival. She fell back on the pillow, and a tear slid from her eye. She and her mom loved CCR. She listened as they sang Someday Never Comes. Rayda curled into a ball and cried herself to sleep.
***
The next morning, Rayda met her sister for breakfast before checking on their mom’s house and driving to the airport.
“The painters said they’d be finished today,” Laura said as they ate breakfast together.
“That’s good. It’s going to be painful to say goodbye for the last time.” I know what you mean here, but it sounds like it may be painful saying goodbye to the painters. Perhaps you could say It will be painful saying goodbye to the house / Laura for the last time instead?
Laura took her sister’s hand. “As much as I would have loved you staying with me, I’m glad you stayed at Mom’s.”
Rayda’s eye dampened. “I’ve never been surrounded by so many memories. - I'm sure she's surrounded by memories at her own home. Perhaps she could say that it was nostalgic to be there, or that it brought back many lost memories. Speaking of memories, are you sure you don’t mind sending me copies of the photos?”
“Of course not.”
Rayda nodded. “Thank you, again, for making the album so I could take a few with me.”
“Don’t thank me,” she chuckled. “Thank the copy shop. All I did was stick them in the pages.”
Rayda noticed Laura’s look of concern. Laura was chuckling in the last sentence “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
Laura shook her head. “I hope so. You seem awfully uneasy.”
Rayda rested her elbow on the table and massaged her forehead. “I didn’t sleep well. I guess it’s because I’m going home, and I don’t know when I’ll see you again. And then there’s saying goodbye to our childhood home.”
Laura took her hand again. “We’ll stay in touch. Let’s make a pact. I visit you at least once a year, and you do the same. And we can do facetime (I think it's FaceTime) like you did with Roland and Tyler.”
Rayda grinned and squeezed her sister’s hand. “Deal.” While Rayda was smiling, she couldn’t help but feel things would never be the same. - It's a given that things won't ever be the same, since her mum has died and her childhood house is being sold.
***
Rayda loaded the rental car at the Atlanta airport and slid behind the steering wheel of the SUV. She didn’t feel right. Her stomach churned, sweat broke out on her brow, and her hands shook. She’d been having this problem for weeks, and living off Pepto Bismol was getting old. As soon as she got home, she’d make a doctor’s appointment. She opened her purse, tapped a couple of pink tablets into her palm, and tossed them into her mouth. After she’d guzzled half a bottle of water, she turned the ignition and made her way home out of the parking lot.
Once the nausea passed, she called her husband. “Hey. I’ll be home in about five hours. I decided to drive in on I-75.”
“I can’t wait to see you. Are you turning in the rental first?”
“No. I figured we’d do that in the morning.”
“Well, I hope you’re not planning on an early morning run to Hertz. I have a feeling we may be sleeping in.” I'm guessing that Tyler isn't a young child then :)
His boyish laughter caused Rayda’s face to burst I don't think of faces as bursting into expressions into a huge grin. God, how she loved him. How she missed him and Tyler.
“I know,” she said coyly and sighed. “I may be exhausted.”
Roland chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’ll wake you up!”
Rayda smiled as she slipped the phone into the holder. A month. She’d been away for an entire month. If Roland hadn’t kept the bird feeders full and watered her garden, she’d... Rayda’s thoughts paused. If he hadn’t, she’d say nothing. All she wanted was to hold him and Tyler again. To be home.
***
Rayda’s phone rang, and she smiled. Roland was going to drive her crazy with his checking in. But that was fine with her.
“Hellooo!” She chuckled.
“Where are you?” Roland’s voice sounded husky.
She chuckled again. “Barely out of Atlanta.”
“Where?” he asked a little too loud.
Rayda flinched. “Geeze, let me look.” She checked the navigator. “I’m just outside Stockbridge, Georgia.”
“Pull over.”
Her brow pinched, and her lips twisted. “I don’t want to pull over and chat, Roland. I’m capable of talking and driving. I’m freaking trying to get home!”
“Rayda, pull off the interstate now! We need to talk.”
What the hell? Rayda’s body began to shake as she parked on the side of I-75.
“Roland. What’s wrong?”
“There’s a Walmart in Stockbridge. Put it in the navigator and go there! Take the cash limit from the ATM and use our cards to buy all the non-perishable items you can. And a map! Don’t forget the map!”
Rayda laughed. “So, you want me to go shopping before I come home? What did you do? Eat all of our food storage while I was gone?”
“Listen to me, Rayda. Buy a large backpack and camping gear. Think of everything we use to camp. Tents, sleeping bags, cookware, matches and lighters, a shovel, ax, and saw. A compass. And don’t forget a damned can opener and knife! And get a can of that stuff to fix flat tires. And a radio—preferably a wind-up.”
“What’s going on? You sound like you’ve lost our your mind!”
“Pay attention! Buy as much as you can fit in the SUV. And gallons of water. For God’s sake, don’t forget the water! And a water filter.”
Rayda screamed into the phone. “Roland! What the hell is going on?”
He was quiet for a second. “I pray they’re wrong. The entire west coast has lost power. Folks on the HAM radio say - Is Roland on the HAM radio listening to this? If not, it may be better to state 'Initial reports are saying that... etc it may be an EMP and that the rest of the country needs to prepare, just in case. Preston Scott is on the radio. He says he’ll be broadcasting as long as he can to keep us up to date.”
I think you need to add some context as to how Rayda doesn't know this from listening to the radio herself. Could you have her singing along to a Spotify Playlist that she connects to the SUV's bluetooth or something? Most people driving alone would have something to listen to.
I think you also need to expand on what an EMP is and why she needs to be concerned. Can you have her asking him questions about what an EMP is and why she needs to worry about it? Could you have Roland asking her what type of vehicle she's driving (is it electric? An older / newer model diesel etc) and then he could explain some of the things that can be knocked out by an EMP. I remember the one that knocked out part of Canada. I think that lasted 12 hours or something so I am assuming that this one is much worse?).
The phone slid from her hand. After a moment, she picked it up. “What do I do? How do I get home if it’s true and hits us?”
“Rayda, we don’t really know how this works. Just buy what I told you and head home. Keep the radio on. Find a side road, and get off the interstate if it starts sounding weird! If what starts sounding weird? It won’t be safe if it’s an EMP. (what won't be safe?) Call me every few minutes! I’ll find you!” - Is he setting out to try and meet up with her?
Rayda sat and said nothing.
“Move, Rayda! Damn it! Move!”
“Headed to Walmart,” she said softly.