Catch a ride home
But is it safe?
If grumbling could be considered an art form then she had it down to a 'T'. Maybe there were gold medals in grumbling and feeling sorry for herself in her current situation, she would have a lot of those medals at this rate.
“Fucking thief, fucking assholes, fucking bad luck, fuck my life, fuck the world, fuck it all!” She has been growling this for hours since having to make the long walk home, a good forty odd miles from the local city, after her purse had been stolen.
Thankfully it hadn't had her debit card in it but she didn't have any money in her account to use since she hadn't been paid yet and the little money she had was used on a return bus ticket that had been lost when the wind had blown it out of her hand.
That had just been the start of her bad luck, she had set off to the bus station to use what little money she had left to sort out a new single bus ticket home. She had gone to the local city for an appointment so had to ask for a day off work to get to the appointment, thankfully the appointment had at least been good news, and was heading home when her bad luck began.
However on the way to the bus station to sort out a new ticket she was mugged and her purse was stolen, she kept two purses with the one holding any cards tucked away in a secret compartment in her handbag while the other purse she had forgotten to tuck away in the compartment as well. And that purse was the one she used for her money.
So with no money she tried to call for help from a friend or her parents only to find that her phone had been damaged and wasn't working any more. She had tried to use a pay phone but every pay phone was out of order as in smashed to pieces by whoever had thought to use every pay phone for miles as target practice.
She didn't know anyone in the local city either so there wasn't anyone she could ask for help from.
Which had left her with only one option, walk home and hope that someone she knew would pick her up on the way back. Almost twenty miles of walking and so far no luck, the sun is setting fast which worries her since she'll be walking on the side of the road in the dark and she has nothing reflective on her clothing.
She was a keen walker so the distance wasn't too much of a problem, somewhat, but she was tired, hungry and thirsty. She badly needed to get home and soon.
Pushing herself onwards, she feels the chill of night envelope her as the sun finally sets completely and darkness embraces the world around her. This was not good to put it mildly.
Her stomach growls loudly, her legs feel weak and her throat is parched. She knew she could keep going but she was already feeling weak and badly needed food and rest.
“Fuck fuckity fuck fuck” Her mum would always tell her that it was unladylike of her to swear so much, although her grandmother could swear up a storm with gusto and her sister could make even the best swearer blush. It seemed to run in the family when it came to most of the women.
If there was an afterlife then she would probably swear in whatever deity's face, if there were any, for her dying in such a lousy manner if she dies out here.
Her legs buckle then and she falls to her knees, pain greeting her. Fighting back tears of pain and anger from this, she pushes herself back up only to fall again. She was spent.
“Great, mum will be so thrilled to hear her eldest died in a ditch” She growls to herself, her stomach growling at the same time.
“Too weak to walk, too tired to think straight, too hungry to focus, too thirsty to even breathe. Just had to be one of those crappy days” She doesn't hear a car stop behind her and a voice call out to her, not until it calls out a second time.
“You okay there, miss? Need some help?” A man's voice, deep but not as deep as her dad's. Light accent to it by the sound of it. Weakly she turns her head to try and get a glimpse of the person speaking, she can see someone beside a car. The car itself is an older model, she recognises the make and knows she hasn't seen one of those since she was very young. A neighbour used to have a car like that.
“Not okay, need help” She manages to say weakly, her voice felt strained from all of her grumbling. Her throat feels rough and in need of water.
She knew it wasn't safe to ask for help from a stranger, especially with her being a woman all on her own. She knows all too well how dangerous the world is for a woman, both cis gender and trans gender alike, and she's lost a few friends to such dangers.
“Hop in, I'll give you a lift” She hesitates when she hears this, was this man going to help her or was he going to take her somewhere and kill her? What a fitting end to this lousy day that would be if she was going to be killed by some stranger. She did need help though, no one else had helped her.
“I won't hurt you, I promise. Hurting people isn't my thing” He does sound sincere but then don't serial killers sound sincere as well right before the killing begins? 'Here, let me help, oops, there's a knife slicing across your throat, oh dear'.
A strong growling from her stomach and her strength sapping away more breaks her out of her thoughts, she badly needs the help so decides to risk it. The man comes over to her and helps her to her feet before helping her to his car, he unlocks the side door with a key which is rare to see since usually people have those key fobs, and helps her into the passenger seat and slips the seatbelt over her.
Once satisfied that the belt is secure, he returns to the driver side and gets in behind the wheel. With quiet grace the car sets off and they are on their way. Looking over at him she feels like she's seen him before but can't quite place the face.
“So where you headed?” She feels hesitant to say but decides to risk it and tells him, he nods in reply.
“Not a problem, have you there shortly. May I ask why you were out there alone?” She explains about her day with which he ahhs and looks upset over her rotten day.
“So are you going to kill me?” She asks, surprised at how blunt she was saying that to someone who was helping her. At least she hopes he's helping her.
“Nope, not my style. I saw someone in need of help and I offered a helping hand, the world needs more people willing to help instead of harm. Got a name? Mine's Tom, yours?” Her stomach growls again and Tom looks at her before returning his attention to the road.
“I've got some food in the back, some bread and the like. Was doing a little shopping but I have enough to share so help yourself. There's some water there as well if you're thirsty” True to his word she can see some bags in the back seat with food shopping peeping out of a couple of them, it didn't feel right though.
“Go ahead, really, you sound like you need some food in you. Quite the walk I imagine” Another growl pushes her to grab a bag and pull it to the front, looking inside she sees some bread and a bottle of water as well as other things. The bread and water is the most tempting though.
“Only if you're sure” She says weakly.
“I'm sure, help yourself. I can always get more” Taking the bread and water from the bag, she slips it back to the back seat before digging in. The bread feels like a feast to her after the past several hours and the water is divine on her throat.
“So your name?”
“Elmira, I usually get called Ell or Elm though by my closest friends” Tom nods as he drives, his eyes focused on the road. Only his headlights bring any light to the road, the sky is clouded over and there are no other vehicles on the road. A solitary car in the darkness.
“Dread to think what would have happened to you out there if I hadn't come alone, it's dangerous to be walking on the road in the dark. It's hurts me heart to hear that no one else helped you despite how clearly you were needing the help” She's used to it really, few ever help anyone. Her stomach now content with some bread in it and some water, she can feel her strength slowly returning although she was going to need some more substantial when she gets back home. If anyway if Tom doesn't turn out to actually be a killer.
“Not much of a talker then?” Not really, she's never been all that vocal.
“Talking's never been a strong suit” Her most expressive forms of communication are usually her scathing glares, fingers, swearing and quiet expressions that say more than words ever can. She tends to only prefer speaking if it's needed, small talk doesn't interest her.
“I find that words say nothing when a good hard glare can say everything” This is the most she's spoken to anyone in a while, she's even had to learn sign language due to her distaste for vocal communication.
“Silence can speak the loudest volumes if one is willing to listen” True. “Have you back home soon, you look tired” That was an understatement, the walk had been exhausting and running on literal fumes from hunger and thirst hadn't helped.
While Elmira is a keen walker she always prefers to at least have a bottle or two of water with her and something to eat when needed, she hadn't been expecting to be walking so far today however so hadn't thought to take anything with her. That was going to change from now on.
“If it's okay with you I'll just listen if you want to talk, I find listening to be better than talking” Tom doesn't seem to mind this, he doesn't say much else though. Soon they arrive at her destination and he stops just short of her house, not too far, about a few seconds walk away since there's the neighbour's somewhat oversized car parked out the front. Well parked from her neighbour's front to her front by a good eight feet.
Midlife crisis thing, the car is huge.
“Here we go, you be safe now. She lets herself out and turns to thank him, only to find that the car and Tom are already gone. She hadn't heard it leave.
Maybe her fatigue had blocked out the sound of his leaving, seems unlikely though. Feeling her legs wobble again she heads for home, too tired to think.
Next day after work she drops round to see her mum and tells her what happened yesterday, when she mentions Tom however her mum looks surprised, even more so when she explains the car he had been driving.
“Elm, can you get my photo album please, the one made before you were born?” She knows it well since she has flicked it many times over the years, after getting it she returns to her mum who opens it to show a familiar face – Tom.
“Is this the man you saw?” She asks and Elmira nods. “Guess he's watching over you then, at least he got to see you as a grown woman. Tom's your biological dad, Elm, he died before you were born. You must have been seven months in me at that time if I recall. He was coming home from getting me some bread and other things because the local shop was all out, he said he would only be gone less than two hours but he never returned home.
I didn't know what happened to him until the police informed me that he had been giving someone a ride home only to be shot to death for his kindness. Before he had gone out he had promised me that he would be back and that he would always be there for both of us, especially for you. He never got the chance to meet you until last night, maybe he's always been watching over you in some form or another” A light knock at the front door and something being shoved through the letter box can be heard then, Elmira goes to the door to see what it is and sees the purse that was stolen on the floor under the letter box.
Picking it up, she opens it to find a small note and all of her stolen money. The note has a small message:
'You are welcome, do be safe and careful. Love, dad. Give your mum a hug for me, will you?'
Catch a ride? Maybe.