The noise coming from Hunter’s work in the dining room stopped, and a moment later he was beside the couch. “Hey, let’s get outta here,” he said. He dried his hands with a paper towel as he talked. “I wanna show you something.”
“What is it?” I asked, a little uneasy. The last time he’d wanted to show me something, it had been his MS treatment. Maybe I was just stressed out because we were still waiting on Hunter’s test results. The dream hadn’t helped my nerves either.
“Don’t worry, it’s something good. Come on, it’s crazy warm out.”
He motioned toward the door. It would certainly help me forget about that horrible nightmare and the little smile on his face intrigued me. Plus, it would be a shame to stay in the house all day. Hunter was probably worried about his test results too, and staying in all day while I moped around about my dream wouldn’t do anyone any good.
I rubbed my eyes, and yawned. “Just let me get changed real quick, okay?”
He shrugged. “Yeah sure, but hurry up.”
“Okay,” I said with a laugh. “Where are we going? Since I’m getting dressed.”
“You can wear whatever,” he replied. Then he seemed to think better of it. “Actually, you probably want shoes you can walk in.”
I nodded and walked upstairs. After a few minutes deliberation, I decided on a sundress. Might as well celebrate the first warm day of the year. Thanking myself for shaving my legs in the shower the previous night, I got dressed and bounced downstairs wearing a comfy pair of flats.
Hunter was waiting for me by the door. After making sure I was ready, he led the way to his beat up car out front. He had the directions to where we were going on his phone, but when I asked to be navigator he said no.
“So . . . are you going to tell me where we’re going?” I asked once we were on the road.
“It’s a surprise,” he replied, shooting me a sly grin.
I shrugged and sat back in my seat. The last time he’d surprised me, it had been the carnival. Whatever this was, it was probably good. I felt bad that Hunter had to take charge of cheering himself up, but to this point he had seemed to have his mood under control and I didn’t want to make him feel like I pitied him. I knew he hated that.
We rolled down the windows and let the cool spring breeze draft through the car. Hunter drove through the flat roads of Indiana until we were on the freeway. Whatever he had in mind, we definitely weren’t going to the fortune teller this time. I was starting to feel better too. The fresh air helped me get my mind off of that nightmare.
“Thanks for suggesting this.”
He laughed. “We haven’t even gotten there yet. You have no idea where we’re going.”
“Yeah, but just leaving the house is helping me relax. I had a really awful nightmare while I was napping on the couch.”
“Oh, what about?”
“My stepfather’s trial.”
I took a deep breath to steady myself. It seemed like so long ago, but talking about it now was still difficult. Even so, I wanted to tell Hunter. I knew it didn’t help to keep it inside. “It was kind of a flashback of when they were questioning me about my mom and Marco’s relationship. One of the hardest things about what happened was that nobody ever figured out why Marco did it. It’s really been bothering me a lot lately.”
Hunter nodded, his eyes were on the road, but I could tell from his expression that he was listening.
I continued. “I mean, maybe it would have made sense if he was into drugs or fought a lot with my mom or something, but none of that ever happened. They always seemed happy together. It just never made sense. The prosecutors pushed me and pushed me. They were sure I’d remember something if they kept going through it, but I didn’t. I’ve kept thinking about it even after the trial. Nothing.”
“Shit, that sounds really hard.”
“Yeah. I think that’s what made it so difficult for me to face what happened.”
“Do you think you’ll ever find out the reason?”
“I don’t know, but I wrote him a letter back asking him.”
“Yeah. Dr. Schwartz thought it might be good for me, so I did it last week. I don’t know if he’ll reply, but maybe I can get some answers.”
“I hope you can get the answers you want too.”
I nodded and turned to look out the window at the trees passing by.
He brought us out here to lighten the mood and here I was talking about depressing things again. I turned back to Hunter and smiled at him, patting his knee. “Anyway, let’s not ruin the sunny weather.”
Hunter smiled back and put his hand over mine reassuringly.
We sat in silence for a while, each lost in our own thoughts and enjoying the scenery passing by. I couldn’t help myself. The wind blowing through my hair made me drowsy and before long I closed my eyes and drifted off. This time, it was a dreamless sleep.
I woke up almost an hour later. As I rubbed the grit out of my eyes, we whizzed by a sign at the side of the road that read “Indiana Dunes National Park.”
I had come here once when I was really young, but I didn’t remember much. What had caused Hunter to want to take this long trip?
I stretched out, feeling in a playful mood. “Jeez, you drove us a long way.”
“Hey Snorrie, you woke up just in time, ” he said, a big dopey smile on his face.
“Why the day trip? You know we didn’t have to come this far if you just wanted some alone time.”
“Well, you’ve only got a few more days before you gotta submit your portfolio, so I figured you might want some better drawing subjects than the inside of your aunt’s place and Bernie.”
“Yeah,” he said, reading my mind. “I got your supplies from your room. They’re in the back seat.”
I beamed at him. The sun was shining bright and we were already turning onto a dirt road. To either side of the car were vast plains of grass and wildflowers. I watched the scenery go by, getting more excited by the minute. He was right. This would be a perfect place to get some drawing done and really get my mind off my nightmare.
After some more driving, we were pretty far off of the main road and Hunter parked the car in a little patch of gravel.
“This look good?” he asked.
I surveyed the surrounding landscape. We were surrounded as far as the eye could see by rolling dunes and trees. It was perfect.