By: Robin Gagnon
It was dark and Harold really wanted to go home. The office had made him stay later than normal and when he was finally ready to leave, his wife wanted him to stop and get some things at the store. Needless to say, he was exhausted and struggling to stay awake, as he drove down a long stretch of country road.
Recently, Harold has just moved far away from the city, so that his wife could live in the house that she grew up in as a child, and he wasn’t yet accustomed to the long rides home. Either side of the road was pitch black and he shivered while trying not to get lost staring into the dark abyss. He hated driving down this road.
Soon, he’d be home though. In about 10 more minutes he’d make it back to his humble abode and he’d be able to sit down and simply lose himself watching mindless television.
Just as he began to relax, something up ahead caught his eye. On the side of the road was a woman dressed in white with her thumb in the air. What was a young lady doing in the middle of nowhere?
Harold hit the brakes and pulled over next to the woman. He may have wanted to go home, but he certainly wasn’t the kind of person to leave someone stranded.
“Oh, thank you,” the woman greeted him, when he opened the passenger door for her. “I was starting to think that no one would stop for me.”
“What are you doing out here?” Harold asked. “It’s way too late for someone like yourself to be looking for a ride. We are in the middle of nowhere. How’d you even wind up in a place like this?”
The woman looked uncomfortable as she responded, “My boyfriend and I got into a fight and I told him to drop me off right here.”
“Oh,” Harold replied, looking a little embarrassed. “I’m sorry to here that. Regardless, he shouldn’t of just dropped you off here. That was irresponsible of him.”
The woman just smiled at him. She was a bit odd, Harold realized. Her white dress was a little old fashioned and her accent seemed to be a little different than most folks around these parts. Her blond hair was wavy and her blue eyes sparkled like stars when she grinned at him. She couldn’t have been any older than his own teenage daughter.
“Where do you want me to take you?” Harold asked, driving back onto the road. “Your house?”
“Sure,” the lady nodded. “I live a bit further up this stretch of road here.”
Harold nodded and they continued driving in silence. At one point he looked over at her, but she was staring out the window.
“My name is Mary, by the way,” she suddenly spoke up. “Mary Wallace.”
Harold took a moment to nod at her, “Nice to meet you, Mary. My name’s Harold Barnes. My wife’s maiden name is actually Wallace, y’know.”
“Oh, really?” Mary asked in disbelief. “What a coincidence.”
By this point, they had almost reached Harold’s house. He was going to have to drive by it to take Mary home, he realized. Hopefully, she didn’t live too much farther up the road.
“This is it,” Mary announced excitedly. “This is my house.”
Harold pulled into the driveway with nothing but confusion written on his face. He stared up at the familiar, two-story Victorian home.
“That’s impossible,” he muttered. “This is my house.”
He looked over at the passenger seat, but the woman was gone. Goosebumps immediately rippled across his skin and his hairs began to stand on end.
Running into the house with wild eyes, he couldn’t believe what had just happened. He found his wife cooking dinner in the kitchen with boxes from when they had moved in, lying on the floor waiting to be unpacked.
“Hello, hunny,” she greeted Harold without looking up. “Did you get the candles I asked for?”
“Yes,” he answered, not sure how to tell his wife what had happened “Why did we need candles anyway?”
“I wanted to light them in memory of my aunt,” she answered, picking up a picture on the counter and bringing it over for Harold to look at. “She was murdered in a field up the road when she was young on this day. I never got to meet her and I thought it would be a nice thing to do.”
Harold’s blood went cold when he looked down at the photograph. It was a picture of a lady with blond hair and a white dress. The same woman who had just hitchhiked a ride home with him.