Time Will Tell
by Marian Allen
“What time is it, Mom?”
Hard enough navigating city streets, when you’re used to the country, without a pre-teen shouting in your ear. “Sit back, Miss Impatience! It’s about four.”
“The bus leaves at four!”
“Well, it’s about four.”
“I’m driving! Leave my wrist alone!”
Rachel bounced in her seat. “WHY don’t we have a car with a clock that works? WHY can’t I have a cell phone?” She didn’t say it right, though; she didn’t say “wah,” like normal people; she said “whaee,” like her new friends.
I didn’t say it again. She knew the answer: we wouldn’t be able to afford it until her dad had a couple of paydays under his belt and I had a couple of housecleaning jobs lined up. If, of course, her dad agreed to it. Neither one of us liked the idea much, but she argued that it would make her safer, and we could see that. It would also make her less safe, but everything’s a gamble.
Take moving to the city, for example. Good move or bad move? Time would tell.
“What if it’s gone? What if they left without me?”
“They didn’t leave without you. It’s just barely four.” It was after four. She knew, because she sneaked a look when she made that last turn. Not much after four: not even ten minutes after. But after.
“What if they dooooooo?”
“They won’t.” But they might. This wasn’t Millardsville, where the bus driver played dartball with Rachel’s daddy and all the kids had grown up with her and most of them been to her house one time or another. More people, less connection, stricter rules.
“Mama, but they might!”
Rachel hadn’t called her Mama for years. The poor little thing was really worried.
“If they left without you, I’ll drive you, myself.”
Rachel stopped fidgeting, her eyes wide and her mouth ajar. “You wouldn’t!”
“It’s the same campground where Brother Ransom did that retreat. I know the way.”
And she didn’t look forward to it. But this was her girl. “Don’t care.”
“Mama, I’d die! It’d be so embarrassing!”
“Well, but maybe we could catch up to the bus at a rest stop or a gas station or something.”
“That’d be even worse!”
They rode in a few moments of blessed silence. Then Rachel said, “You wouldn’t really, would you? Drive me there like a baby?”
“Your daddy and I said you could go. We paid for it, you packed for it, so, yeah.”
“Oh, lord have mercy.”
She pulled into the school lot, next to the big yellow bus idling there. A rush of emotion shoved its way from her heart to her eyes, and she blinked it back. “See what happens when you say your prayers? Told you they’d still be here.”
A lady teacher with a clipboard hopped down from the bus and motioned Rachel urgently toward her. “You’re the last one here. One more minute, and we would have left. Hop in!”
Rachel grabbed her bag and scurried up the steps without a backward glance. The teacher waved and scrambled up after her.
She watched the bus pull out, resisting the urge to wave, in case Rachel was looking. Didn’t want her girl to die of embarrassment.
Would Rachel remember? Years from now, would she remember the time she almost missed the bus to camp and her mother offered to drive her there? If she remembered, would she cringe in shame, or would she tear up, the way her mother was tearing up now, because the bus waited and the sacrifice wasn’t needed?
Time would tell. Only time would tell.
I’m posting at Fatal Foodies today about a cabbage/mushroom soup I made yesterday.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: 409